Worst of all, he’s on the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry for 25 years, a scarlet letter that will make it hard for the 19-year-old to find a job or a place to live. Anderson of Elkhart drove just across the Indiana-Michigan border and hooked up with a 14-year-old Niles girl who he says told him she was 17.Several newspapers have written editorials supporting Anderson.
Michigan has the fourth-highest number of people on its registry, 43,000, behind California, Texas and Florida, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Kids.
Each state can set its own rules for who qualifies for the registry.“This case is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Bill Dobbs, a member of the reform group.
“This 21st century scarlet letter needs more than fixing.
It needs to be abolished.”But a lawmaker who has helped write some of Michigan’s sex registry laws has little sympathy for Anderson. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said Anderson was old enough to know better.“A 19-year-old knows you have to be careful,” he said.
Niles — Locked up for 73 days, teen Zach Anderson walked out of the Berrien County Jail last month and received an ominous message from his probation officer: The tough part was just beginning. An online petition asking the judge to reconsider has received 156,000 signatures.
His quest has drawn support from around the country, including the mother of the girl, and raised questions about whether sex registries should be focused more on protecting victims than punishing offenders.
“They make me out to be a monster.”As a first-time offender younger than 21, he was eligible for a program that would have softened the punishment. Anderson will try to withdraw his guilty plea Wednesday in Berrien County District Court.
The age of consent in Michigan is 16.“It’s crazy,” said Anderson.
Before everything turned upside down, Anderson led a tranquil life.
Working as an auto shop technician, he lived with his parents along an inlet of the St. The second oldest of four boys, he liked to play computer games and make skateboarding videos.
Like many teen boys, he met girls through dating websites and apps like Hot or Not.