Teenage boys might have to start asking teen girls for valid ID before agreeing to go on a first date if they want to stay off the sex offender registry.
Put yourself in this scenario: You're 18, you go to a dating site, you start talking to a girl whose profile states she's 17, and then you both "hook up." The usual teenage intimacy ensues (sex), and you find out later that she lied about her age. She's really 14-years-old, and her parents are now really pissed. Pissed enough to take you to court for having sex with an underage girl, but then once they realized their precious girl lied about her age, they back down. In an unforeseen chain of events, the judge puts you on the sex offender list for the next 25 years. He does this even after the girl states that she lied about her age, and that the sex was consensual. He does this even after her parents state that they don't want to press charges. The judge says too bad. He wants to make an example of you. You did the crime, you do the time. You just turned 19, and you're now a registered sex offender.
This is what happened to Zach Anderson of Indiana.
- He was at his home in Elkhart, Indiana, when he met the girl, who lived across the state line in nearby southern Michigan.
- The girl told Zach she was 17, but she lied. She was only 14, and by having sex with her, Zach was committing a crime. He was arrested and convicted.
- He was given a 90-day jail sentence, five years probation and placed on both Indiana and Michigan's sex offender registry for the next 25 years.
- Under court order, he can't access the Internet, go to a mall or linger near a school or playground.
- His parents say because he has a 15-year-old brother, he can't even live at home any longer.
- Even though the sex was consensual and even though girl did lie about her age, it is not a defense under current sex offender laws.
- Judge Dennis Wiley, who sentenced Zach, was just following what the "one size fits all" sex offender law states.
- The sex offender law treats everyone as if they pose the same threat, whether they are a predatory child molester or a teen who had sex with his girlfriend.
In a 2013 study of the sex offender registry, Human Rights Watch says there is "no evidence" that placing teens on the registries make communities safer. Yet, 19-year-old Zach is there for the next 25 years - at which time, he'll be 44-years-old.
It also seems that Judge Dennis Wiley was a bit biased when he sentenced Zach. The judge said he was angry because Zach had used the Internet to meet a girl.
"That seems to be part of our culture now," he said, according to a transcript. "Meet, have sex, hook up, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this whatsoever."
So now Zach has to pay retribution for every teen's (and adult's) actions for the next 25 years? How is that a fair ruling?
Zach, his parents, and his lawyers won't go down without a fight, though. Just today, local news channel WSBT reported that Judge Wiley "agreed to consider a re-sentencing appeal."
This might have something to do with fact that the case has gone nationwide. Or because Zach's parents have started an online petition to get justice for their son, and it has gained strong support with over 170,000 signatures (last we checked).
Judge Wiley says no decision will be made today, because he needs to look at prior cases, but, if Zach's appeal is approved, "the teen would have the chance to go before a different judge who could possibly remove him from the registry," according to WSBT News.
Personally, I hope Zach Anderson catches a much deserved break. The fact that this kid's future is in such jeopardy is despicable. Judges have to stop this "send a message" attitude. To ruin anyone's future to "send a message" doesn't stop anything from happening anywhere in society.
If a judge really wants to send a message, then put Dick Cheney behind bars. Thomas Buergenthal, the world’s most distinguished expert in international human rights law, says Dick Cheney should – and eventually will – stand trial for war crimes. So when will he do the time for his crime? For a rundown of the life and crimes of the ultimate chickenhawk, watch this video:
If Judge Wiley has had a change of heart, it is only because of self-serving reasons - specifically to get all this negative media attention off of him, as he clearly wasn't objective when making his decision.
What do you think? Sound off below.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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