The girl, now 15, admitted to lying about her age and testified along with her mother in court on Anderson’s behalf.“I don’t want him to be a sex offender because he really is not,” the girl’s mother explained.
When 19-year-old Zach Anderson decided to try out the Tinder-like dating app Hot or Not, he couldn’t have known he was about to completely ruin his life for at least the next 25 years. The girl’s mother, however, thought her daughter went missing that night and called the police.
Anderson had been using the app on his smartphone for about a week when he started flirting with a girl who was registered in the “adults” section of the app and claimed to be 17 years old. Before Anderson even knew what was happening, his life began to implode.
Anderson explained to ABC News: “[She] was actually the first person I had met up with or anything from that. Two months after that encounter, detectives paid Anderson a visit at his job where he works as a mechanic.
He picked her up and they drove to a nearby playground where they had sex.
I didn’t think that was a big deal or anything.” Anderson, who lived in Indiana, agreed to meet the girl 20 miles away near her Niles, Michigan home.
He recounted to ABC: “I was in the middle of an oil change and my friend who was working there came into the back and was like, ‘There are two detectives here, Zach.
They want to talk to you.’ And my hearts pounding like crazy so yeah I knew something was going down.
I told my parents that night.” Anderson was soon arrested — it turns out that “17-year-old” girl was really 14. Anderson eventually pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
In the state of Michigan, where the offense took place, there is no automatic defense if a victim lies about their age. He can’t own a smartphone or use the internet or even a computer. He has to follow all of these rules for the next five years.
He’s not allowed to talk to anyone under the age of 17 unless they are immediate family, and he’s banned from going to any establishment that serves alcohol. Because of Anderson’s status as a sex offender, he’s not allowed to visit a park to skateboard, his favorite past-time, and he’s not even allowed to live in his parent’s house because it is 200 feet too close to a public boat ramp.
His aspiration to become a computer engineer has been destroyed.