19-Year-Old Fights to Be Taken Off Sex Offender Registry

Zach Anderson had consensual sex with a girl he met on a dating app who told him she was 17, but she was just 14.
7:50 | 10/13/15

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Transcript for 19-Year-Old Fights to Be Taken Off Sex Offender Registry
The young man you're about to meet was slated to spend the next 25 years on the sex offender registry. Why? He had sex with a 14-year-old girl who later admitted she lied about her age. But then his cautionary tale went viral. He now may have hope for a new lease on life. Here's my "Nightline" coanchor juju Chang. He's probably waiting in there. Reporter: It's just before 6:00 A.M. Outside county jail in Michigan. Les and ammanda Anderson are here begin again ? ? you be the moon I'll be the earthand when we burst ? ? start over oh darling ? ? begin again begin again begin again ? ? and participated in everything that happened, she wanted it to happen. Reporter: Even though he's out he's far from free. Today is his first day as a convicted sex offender. For the next five years he will live by restrictive rules. He can't own a smartphone or use the internet and has a nightly curfew of 8:00 P.M. He'll be listed on the sex offender registry for the next 25 years. The punishment he and his parents say doesn't fit the crime. So they're fighting for a reduced sentence. I think it's ridiculous. I know that I'm not a sex offender. Reporter: Zach graduated high school last year. Like many teens he turned to his smartphone to find a date. I'd asked her, how old are you? She had told me 17. Because I just got out of high school, so two years' difference, I didn't think that was a big deal. Reporter: The 14-year-old falsely registered on the adult section of the site. They flirted via text and arranged to meet in her hometown of Niles, Michigan, 20 miles across the state line from Zach's home in Indiana. He picked her up and they drove to a playground where they had sex Mr. Sex. Did you think her mother was looking for you this. Not really. I hugged her and took her back to her house. Reporter: Unbeknownst to them the girl's mother called the police that night worried about her daughter. Two months later detectives showed up at Zach's work. My friend was working there, came to the back, there's two detectives here, they want to talk to you. My heart's pounding like crazy. Reporter: He was arrested and pled guilty to fourth degree criminal sexual conduct. But the 14-year-old girl didn't want Zach charged at all. She even wrote him a letter saying, I'm sorry I didn't tell you my age, I'm dying every day because I've done this to you. At the trial Zach found another unlikely ally, the girl's mother, telling the judge, I don't want him to be a sex offender because he really is not. Her daughter adding, I feel nothing should happen to Zach. But the judge condemned what he called a culture of meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara, totally inappropriate behavior. Sentenced him to 90 days in jail. The hardest part for me was to see him being led away. Because he turned and looked at us. It's like, we want to give him a hug and you don't have that opportunity. Reporter: Today after two and a half months of jail food this is Zach's first taste of freedom. A smoothie. Can't wait to drink that. Hold on. I want to take a picture of that. Reporter: Everyday errand not longer taken for granted. Look at you, a new man. Good to be out when you're locked inside for a couple of months, crazy to get outside. Reporter: Now that he's out he'll be living on his own for the first time. He's not allowed to live at the family home because it's within 800 feet of a public boat camp, just shy of the 1,000-foot minimum. What they're forcing him to do is to leave jail, go to a house, be by yourself. Reporter: As the day went on the harsh reality up their 19-year-old son Zach. Getting him now. R: It's been 2 1/2 months since' theven see hi M. Ow hre you, buddy? Reporter: The hug they've been waiting for. You all right? Yeah. Reporter: He was arrested last winter after with a girl he met on the dating app hot or not. The girl told him she was 17. But she wasn't. Was 14 had sex with her? I wouldn't even have gone to he house. I 'T hdneav geon to her house at all. Reporter: She's admitted to lying about her age but that in our son. The girl herself said, please don't call us a victim, my daughter's not a victim, she was willing. Have my own skate park down here. I haven't skated in a while. Feels good. Reporter: It's his favorite activity. But because sex offenders are not allowed in public parks, finding a way to skate will be tough. Since he can't even us a a computer, his budding career in computer science now disrupted. I can't really have like an actual career. I'm going to be working at a job but not doing something I enjoy doing. How does it sit in your head to hear your son is a registered sex offender? It's totally bogus. If our son's a sex offender there's a lot of other people on that list like them, which dilutes the list and makes it meaningless. Young men are told in high school, 15 is jailbait. That's slang but that's what young men are told. Reporter: Michigan state senator Rick Jones helped write the state's sex offender registry law. He said Zach should have been more careful. I would hope somebody 19 years old would say, well, do you have a driver's license? You don't appear to be the appropriate age. It's crazy. It's like a split decision, like a small decision, know what I mean? And your life can affect everything that you do. Reporter: Making matters worse for Zach, Michigan does not provide an automatic defense for when a girl lies about her age. If he gained in this behavior 20 minutes across the state line, he wouldn't have been charged at all. The law unfortunately at this time in Michigan doesn't have the same protection as Indiana and 19 other states. This will be plenty of people who say, those laws are on the books for a reason, to protect minors from sexual predators. We're not talking about loosening the law. No one's indicating that somebody who preys on a young adult in a predatory manner shouldn't be prosecuted. They should be. This is an instance that you rarely get to say the defendant had no criminal intent. Reporter: In the days after our story first aired in July, Zach's case went viral on social media. More than 220,000 people have signed a petition supporting him. Just last month, a judge threw out Zach's sentence. Next Monday the andersons will head to court again. This time for resentencing where a new judge will determine Zach's fate. We're hoping either to get a resentence -- obviously our goal and our hope would be that charges could be dropped. Reporter: Not just for Zach but what they say are so many others like him. We hope they stop putting people on sex offender registries like they're passing out traffic tickets. Because there are hundreds and hundreds of people that don't deserve to be on that list. They're just publicly shaming these people and our son for life. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'm juju Chang in Elkhart, Indiana.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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