Anderson drove to a convenience store, bought condoms, and brought the 14-year-old to a secluded playground. When the girl missed dinner and her epilepsy medication dosage, her mom began to worry. The girl’s older sister told her mother about Anderson, and after an unsuccessful attempt to reach him on Skype, the worried mother called 911.
The girl arrived around the same time that sheriff’s deputies converged on the family’s home, and one of them spotted Anderson’s online username. The Berrien County’s Sheriff’s Office had been looking for someone named Zach who was attempting to meet underage girls.
It turned out, Anderson was not the person that they were looking for.
Anderson was given a 90-day jail sentence, five years of probation, and has been placed on the sex offender registry in both states, where he will remain listed for the next 25 years.
“That seems to be part of our culture now," Judge Dennis Wiley, who sentenced Anderson, stated in court. "Meet, have sex, hook up, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this whatsoever."
The girl admitted she had lied to Anderson about her age, and both she and her mother took the stand and stated that they did not believe he belonged on the sex offender registry. As a first time offender, and a teenager, he was eligible for softer punishment, but the judge rejected a lighter sentence.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you my age. It kills me every day, knowing you are going through hell and I'm not. I want to be in trouble and not you,” the young girl wrote in a letter that she gave to the Anderson family.
“On the night it happened, I had a gut feeling that I shouldn’t be doing this,” Anderson responded to the girl. “If I would have trusted my conscience, none of this would have happened.”
Coming to the boy’s defense are some interesting characters, including a child predator who served time for molestation. He told CNN that adding teens to the registry dilutes it and makes it difficult to determine who the real dangers are. The registry does not provide details of crimes.
Human Rights Watch has also stated that there is no evidence that placing teens on sex offender registries protects communities.
"If we caught every teenager that violated our current law," former Judge William Buhl told CNN, "we'd lock up 30 or 40 percent of the high school. We're kidding ourselves.”
Under Anderson’s probation conditions, the teen has an 8:00 PM curfew, cannot live at his parents’ home as he has a 15-year-old brother, and cannot patronize restaurants that serve alcohol.
To help him out, his parents have bought him a house behind the print shop that they own and hired him at.
“I don’t know who I can talk to,” Anderson told his dad, according to the Detroit News. “I don’t know whose hands I can shake.”