Friday, July 31, 2015

When sex offender registries are too harsh...

This morning, I read about 19 year old Zach Anderson of St. Joseph, Michigan.  For the next 25 years, Zach will be listed on a sex offender registry.  Why?  Because he had sex with a 14 year old girl last winter.

Zach met the 14 year old on a dating app called Hot or Not.  When they met, she told him she was 17.   She had also falsely registered on the adult section of the site-- seems to me the whole site should be for adults.  Unfortunately, Zach didn't think to ask his partner for proof of age-- now there's a romantic thought.

Zach was later arrested and ultimately sentenced to 90 days.  For the next five years, Zach is forbidden to own a smart phone or use the internet.  He must be home by eight o'clock.  He is not allowed to talk to anyone under age 17, unless they are immediate family.  He can't go to any establishment that serves alcohol.  And though Zach had wanted to study computer science, thanks to his punishment, that dream will have to be put on hold.  He has to live in a fixer upper house that his parents bought for him, because he's not allowed to live in their home.  It's too close to children.  Had Zach and his 14 year old friend been 20 minutes over the state line in Indiana, he would not be in trouble at all, since Indiana has a law that offers an automatic defense in situations where someone lies about their age.

Even Zach's "victim" and her mother think Zach should be off the hook.  They testified on his behalf at his court hearing.

I just don't see how putting this young man on the sex offender registry serves society.  Sex offender registries are supposed to protect people from sex offenders.  All Zach did was have consensual sex with someone who lied about her age.  He didn't rape her.

I don't condone what Zach did.  I think it's stupid to have sex with someone you've just met.  But he's 19 and at an age where sex is on the brain 24/7.  He met an attractive girl who consented to have sex with him, even though she couldn't do that legally.  Should he have gotten to know her better and gotten proof of her age?  Maybe.  But how many people in the heat of passion think to card their sex partners?

Zach is appealing his sentence.  With any luck, he will get the sentence reduced and go back to living a more normal life.

I know sex offender registries are supposed to be protective, but I think in some cases, they are too punitive.  I'd be in favor of allowing more discretion when it comes to sentencing people in sex offense cases.  Not everyone who technically commits a sex offense needs to be punished for decades.  Zach is only 19 years old and has his whole life ahead of him.  He shouldn't be burdened with this for the next 25 years.  

In other news, I took Arran in for a fine needle aspirate of a swelling I found on him the other day.  I am praying it's nothing.


  1. i'm not sure wwhat guys are supposed to do when girls look like adults, say they're legal adults, and in some cases possess realitic-looking IDs that indicate They're adults. ideally, one doesn't have sex with someone until the two are better acquainted and would know enough about the person's life to know the person could not possibly be of age, but real life is not always ideal. Why can old-looking young girls be allowed to defraud young men in mays that can ruin their lives?


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