An Indiana man, who was looking at spending more than two decades on the sexual offender registry for a dating app hookup, got some good news.
A judge has resentenced Zach Anderson to two years’ probation — a decision that will keep him off Michigan’s list and possibly off Indiana’s as well.
Anderson was 19 when he had sex with a 14-year-old Michigan girl who had told him she was 17. Even if the sex was consensual and even if the girl did lie about her age, it is not a defense under current sex-offender laws.
Now 20 years old, Anderson pleaded guilty this year to misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct.
Anderson’s original sentence was thrown out last month because of his age, and he was resentenced Monday under a Michigan law that provides leniency for first-time offenders between the ages of 17 and 20.
Judge Angela Pasula was “very professional and very kind,” Zach’s father Les Anderson said Monday. “It was a fair sentence.”
Zach Anderson was originally given five years’ probation after a 90-day jail sentence and was required to stay on the Michigan and Indiana state sex offender registries for 25 years.
Now 20, Anderson will no longer be on the Michigan registry — the state where he had sex with the girl.
“It’s a really good feeling,” said Anderson. “A lot better than the first time.”
In his home state of Indiana, he may have to stay on the registry during the term of his probation.
Earlier this year, Anderson said he went to an online dating site called Hot or Not and met a girl who said she was 17 and lived in a town about 20 miles away across the state line in southern Michigan from his home in Elkhart, Indiana.
The girl admitted she was only 14 after the fact — but by law, he had committed a sex crime.
Even with the resentencing, Anderson still faces restrictions on his freedom.
Previously forbidden from using a computer, he can now use one for school projects. The judge said Anderson could spend time alone with his younger brother who is 15. The family wasn’t immediately sure if Anderson could move back home where his brother lives, something prohibited under the original sentence.
Still, Anderson was grateful for the reduction in his sentence, especially given the consequences of a long-term stay on the sex offenders list.
“Twenty-five years on the sex offender registry meant that I wouldn’t be able to go to the skate park until I was 45 and by then, I probably wouldn’t even want to go,” he said. “If I had kids, I wouldn’t have been able to go to their school functions.”
By Ed Payne and Stephanie Gallman, CNN