Zach Anderson, a 20-year-old Indiana man who was ordered to spend the next 25 years on two state sex offender registries for having what he believed was consensual sex with a teen girl who lied about her age, was resentenced to two years probation.
Berrien County Judge Angela Pasula handed down the new punishment to Anderson, of Elkhart, Indiana, at a hearing in Michigan today.
“I’m feeling really good,” Anderson told “Nightline” today. “I think this sentence was a lot more reasonable than the first time.”
In his original sentencing, Anderson was ordered to register as a sex offender and remain on the Michigan and Indiana state registries until 2040. He has now been removed from the Michigan list, but remains on the Indiana list. His legal team plans to challenge that.
“This is a big, big victory,” his father Les Anderson told “Nightline” over the phone. “He isn’t a convicted sex offender anymore, so that’s huge.”
“Nightline” profiled Anderson’s case and his family’s fight to clear his name in July before his appeal hearing on Sept. 8, when his criminal sexual conduct sentence was vacated. His story went viral, with thousands of comments pouring in on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. Watch the original "Nightline" report HERE.
“Without the public outcry and [‘Nightline’s’] help, I’m not sure we would have gotten this same outcome. It sure helped,” Les Anderson said.
Anderson’s story began last winter when he drove from his home in Elkhart, Indiana, to Niles, Michigan, a town 20 miles away, to meet up with a girl he had met on the dating app, “Hot or Not,” and the two had sex.
The girl later admitted to police and testified in court at Anderson’s hearing that she lied about her age, telling Anderson she was 17. She was really 14. The age of consent in Michigan is 16, and Anderson was 19 years old at the time. The girl had also registered in the “adults” section of the dating app.
Anderson pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and spent 75 days in jail. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender, which came with notably strict probation.
Under his probation with his original sentencing, Anderson was forbidden from owning a smartphone or using the Internet. He is not allowed to talk to anyone younger than 17, other than immediate family. He is banned from going to any establishment that serves alcohol and he has to be home before 8 p.m. every night.
But with his resentencing, a few of those restrictions have eased.
“He’s still going to have some restrictions under probation,” Les Anderson said. “He’s now allowed to use the computer, but for school only, which is fine.”