Zach Anderson, 19, Gets Lighter Sentence for Sex with Girl He Thought Was 17

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Nineteen year old  Zach Anderson’s case made headlines across America after he was sentenced to 25 years as a sex offender for sleeping with a girl who said she was 17, but turned out to be 14.

He was also given 90 days in jail, and forbidden to use a cell phone, or computer, or live anywhere near where children congregate. This included his family’s home, as it is near one of those big-time child magnets: a dock. But thanks to dogged protesting on the part of his parents, and the reporting of the Elkhart Truth’s Tim Vandenack, who brought the story to public attention (including mine and, eventually, the New York Times‘), Zach’s lawyer Scott Grabel had the wind at his back when he argued for re-sentencing with another judge.  That judge has now ruled and, as Zach’s dad, Les, wrote to us this evening:

Dear Lenore: First and Foremost Zach is no longer a convicted sex offender.  He was given 2 years’ probation today and assigned to the Holmes Youthful Training Status [an Indiana program that wipes the slate clean for young “offenders” if they comply with sentencing conditions]. We are so happy with today’s outcome. Zach now has hope for his future. Thank you to everyone who has supported and helped along the way. We hope Indiana follows suit and removes him from the sex offender registry for good.  At this point we may have to go to court in Indiana to get his name off the registry.   Thank you God.

This is thrilling, but it isn’t enough. Of course Zach should not be on a sex offender registry. He did not prey upon anyone. The girl and her mother both begged the judge not to find Zach guilty of anything.

Secondly, what of the other 19-year-old, Darian Yoder, who went before the same original judge, Dennis Wiley, and was given the same sentence as Zach for the same crime: Sex with a girl he thought was 17? What becomes of his fate, without  national news attention focused on him?

Thirdly, how can we have a law that is so amorphous it can decimate a young man’s life under one judge, but declare him a redeemable youth under another? This is not the law of the land, it is the whim of one judge — or prosecutor. And it is far too easy to use a cudgel.

But of course it is a tale worthy of Aesop that the judge who planned to ruin the life of a young man turns out to have ruined his own life instead. Forever more, Americans will know Berrien County’s Judge Wiley as the man who was ready to force a 19 year old to live a quarter century reviled as a predator merely for having consensual sex with a girl he thought was his age.

Now it is the judge who will be seen as a predator ready to pounce on young men. Who can forget his statement in sentencing Zach?

“You went online, to use a fisherman’s expression, trolling for women, to meet and have sex with,” scolded Wiley. “That seems to be part of our culture now. Meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this.”

Actually, there was an excuse. The girl lied.

What there is no excuse for is ruining someone’s life just because you find their actions distasteful or unchivalrous. – L.

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Zach Anderson, after re-sentencing. Photo by his dad, Les.

Zach Anderson, after his resurrection. Er, re-sentencing. Photo by his dad, Les.

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81 Responses to Zach Anderson, 19, Gets Lighter Sentence for Sex with Girl He Thought Was 17

  1. Richard October 20, 2015 at 4:59 am #

    Other than the unreasonable sentence – which has been covered well – there’s something else in this story that really gets to me. Its that last quote:

    “You went online, to use a fisherman’s expression, trolling for women, to meet and have sex with,” scolded Wiley. “That seems to be part of our culture now. Meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this.”

    Now I happen to think that sex between consenting adults is not a problem, and I’m also the father of two girls. What Wiley is strongly implying with those words is that girls have no say, no decision making skills, and certainly no interest in sex themselves. No will of their own, and no empowerment. That’s a problem too.

    Did he go online looking for women to have sex with? Yes. Did they go online looking for men to have sex with? Also, yes. And that’s okay.

  2. Bebe October 20, 2015 at 6:37 am #

    Interesting redo to the sentencing. It’s headed in the right direction, but seems a bit half-assed: if he’s no longer a convicted sex offender, why let his name linger on the registry? That’s not fair. And maybe the girl could try harder to appeal that she was not victimized, that she wasn’t assaulted or raped, that she lied about her age to have CONSENTING TEENAGE SEX, bc she’s a horny teenager who was curious about sex and went to the length of lying and…….Ok I’ve gone too far, but my point is, the girl needs to own up and take more responsibility, in order to help Zach get off the registry.

  3. BL October 20, 2015 at 7:13 am #

    “And maybe the girl could try harder to appeal that she was not victimized, that she wasn’t assaulted or raped, that she lied about her age to have CONSENTING TEENAGE SEX, bc she’s a horny teenager who was curious about sex and went to the length of lying and”

    Seriously, this particular girl seems to have done everything of that sort she can do, based on the article. Most wouldn’t.

    Something about this case reminded me of a local situation some years ago. The police in a neighboring county picked up a young woman, charged her with prostitution, and booked her into jail. Her family arrived and started screaming that she was only 15 and should not be in a jail with adults.

    Well, the girl had claimed to be 18, of course, to the police. She was quickly transferred to a juvenile lock-up. The girl’s family tried to sue the authorities anyway, for the short time she’d been in the adult jail, but since she’d lied about her age, the authorities were in the clear, it was ruled.

    Interesting double standard, no? Lie to the authorities, it’s your damn fault. Lie to a 19-year-old sex partner, it’s his damn fault.

    They’re the government and they’re here to help.

  4. Donald October 20, 2015 at 8:15 am #

    Congratulations Lenore!

    You played a big part in saving this boys life! Don’t ever forget this. You’ll need pick me up memories like this for when you’re down.

  5. marie October 20, 2015 at 9:04 am #

    Yes, congratulations, Lenore!

    As you have pointed out, Zach Anderson is not the odd case. Very, very few people on the registry are a danger to the community. We know this because only a tiny percentage of them, around 5%, reoffend. Of those reoffenses, an even tinier number are violent crimes. It isn’t the registered citizens we need to watch for.

    People on the sex offender registry have families and those families do not deserve to live on the registry. The registry protects no one. Instead, the it puts people in danger. Registered citizens have been murdered because they were on the registry. Family member have been ostracized, kids have been tormented.

    Zach Anderson is a start. (Congraulations, Zach!)

  6. Edward Hafner October 20, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    Lenore,
    May I suggest you add a category to the “Hot Topics” list – SUCCESS STORIES!

  7. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    “Thirdly, how can we have a law that is so amorphous it can decimate a young man’s life under one judge, but declare him a redeemable youth under another?”

    You either want judges to be able to exercise judgment, or you don’t.
    40-some years ago, school administrators tried to tackle this problem… some kids were getting major penalties for infractions, while other kids were getting minor punishment, or even none at all, for their “youthful indiscretions”. The white, wealthy kids got one kind of treatment, and the poor, minority kids got a different kind of treatment. So they wrote rules that took the judgment away from school officials… all violations produced the same punishment, no variations allowed, no matter the circumstances. It’s part of what’s now called “zero tolerance” policy.

  8. Warren October 20, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    This is on you Lenore. This victory for common sense and understanding is yours. Congrats. This one victory will lead to more down the road. You should be proud.

  9. Katie October 20, 2015 at 9:20 am #

    Where are the official conseqences for the girl?!

  10. bob magee October 20, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    James Pollack:

    It is the punishment that is too amorphous; leaving judges with discretion is important, but the options should not be light years apart.

    Plus it was clear that Judge Wiley imposed the draconian sentence he did based on his own personal animus to this type of behavior.

    That is not discretion.

  11. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    “Where are the official conseqences for the girl?!”

    What consequences? She didn’t break any laws. I imagine the website could terminate her account because she didn’t follow their terms of service, but other than that…

  12. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 9:26 am #

    “it was clear that Judge Wiley imposed the draconian sentence he did based on his own personal animus to this type of behavior.”

    When “this type of behavior” turns out to be illegal…
    We’ve had judges who were “hangin’ judges” for as long as there’ve been judges.

    “That is not discretion.”
    The technical term is “abuse of discretion”.

  13. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    A while back, the popular opinion was that judges weren’t exercising their discretion properly, but the other direction… they weren’t giving out sentences that were long enough. The result was mandatory-minimum sentencing…. taking away discretion from the judges.

  14. Jim Collins October 20, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    “What Wiley is strongly implying with those words is that girls have no say, no decision making skills, and certainly no interest in sex themselves. No will of their own, and no empowerment.”

    Welcome to the modern Feminist movement’s war on men. Every man is a potential rapist. All you have to do is look at our colleges today. Remember reading about the college student who went everywhere with a mattress?

    Ever see a woman on the Sex Offender Registry?

  15. marie October 20, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    “Where are the official conseqences for the girl?!”

    Zach’s unfair punishment is not helped by punishing the girl unfairly. She nothing wrong and she did a lot RIGHT by admitting her part in what happened. She and Zach had consensual sex, something that happens to a great number of us. If we think she should be punished because her thoughtless lie makes us angry, we are no better than the judge who was so harsh with Zach because Zach’s “thoughtless behavior” made the judge angry.

    James Pollack is right about the sentence disparity. Wanting sentences to be “equitable” is what led us to mandatory minimum sentencing.

  16. Lihtox October 20, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    @Richard: I took that statement as an indication that the judge had a particular animosity toward the Internet. “Who knows what you kids’re gettin’ up to in there, with your newfangled technologies?” He’s heard horror stories, and doesn’t have much personal experience to counter the stories.

    @Jim: *eyeroll*

  17. J.T. Wenting October 20, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    “What there is no excuse for is ruining someone’s life just because you find their actions distasteful or unchivalrous.”

    yet that’s exactly what a large part of the legal code sets out to do, dictate peoples’ lives to be in accordance with the likes and dislikes of whomever wrote that law…

  18. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    “Ever see a woman on the Sex Offender Registry?”

    Yep. Haven’t you?

  19. Hancock October 20, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    My advise to my sons will be to not sleep around. Disease, heart break, child support, legal culpability if the woman regrets the sex. Think with your head, not your man parts. And similar advise to my daughter.

    If I have a child who gets in this kind of situation where a partner (however young) has sex with him under false pretenses and then turns around and brings the legal system down on his head, I’ll help him however I can; but I hope it never comes to that, and I won’t think well of this child’s intelligence and self control.

    If I have a child who I found out lied to get sex, I might never trust that child again. That is a very serious crime. Maybe the US judicial system thinks it’s OK to lie to other people to get sex, but in my book, it’s tantamount to rape and I would feel deeply ashamed of that child.

  20. Jim Collins October 20, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    Marie,
    The thing is that the girl lied about her age. Would Zach have had sex with her if she gave her true age? If so then HE was committing a crime. Her lying about her age led him to believe that he was NOT committing a crime by having sex with her. Her deception is the problem here. It is a shame that there is no way for HER to be held accountable.

  21. marie October 20, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    Jim, i do understand your point. It isn’t illegal to lie about one’s age, however. I am not sure what you think should happen. Do you really want to hurt the girl the way the laws have already hurt Zach?

    What I would rather see is a recognition that Zach’s “crime” should not have been prosecuted at all.

  22. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    “What I would rather see is a recognition that Zach’s “crime” should not have been prosecuted at all.”

    As the law is formulated now, he is guilty. The courts were right to convict him. The proper remedy is executive clemency (for when someone is actually guilty of the crime charged, but justice requires that they not be punished.)

    Until you get the legislature to re-write the statute(s), the courts should apply them as written.

    Maybe we could get a Constitutional amendment that makes statutes void for stupidity.

  23. Kimberly October 20, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Like Richard above, I also have a huge problem with the last sentence, but for a different reason: “You went online, to use a fisherman’s expression, trolling for women, to meet and have sex with,” scolded Wiley. “That seems to be part of our culture now. Meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this.”

    What this judge was punishing, what he was attempting to enforce through legal measures, was his own sense of morality. With that sentence, the judge was drawing the line at having anonymous sex with people you don’t know, regardless of age or consent. That, to him, was the proverbial straw.

  24. Doug October 20, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    The concept of “mens rhea” should be applied here, but that would require thinking. Not likely to happen given the current state of critical thought in our society.

  25. Jim Collins October 20, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    I’m with James Pollock on this. Lying about your age is a crime in certain situations (purchasing cigarettes, alcohol etc.), just not in this one. I think that’s wrong.

    Judges and Prosecutors are elected positions. Due to the media hype, it is always good press to prosecute a dangerous predator. That might have had a little something to do with this.

  26. Andrea October 20, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    “Welcome to the modern Feminist movement’s war on men. Every man is a potential rapist. All you have to do is look at our colleges today. Remember reading about the college student who went everywhere with a mattress?”

    Actually, Jim, what you describe is the opposite of the modern Feminist movement, but the fact that you also see the movement as a war on men (rather than seeking to empower women to the same levels to which men are empowered) explains your misunderstanding of the entire movement. To the extent you consider the Feminist reminder that “no means no” to be a “war on men” speaks more to your character (i.e., questionable) than anything.

    Meanwhile, the problems on our colleges campuses has not so much to do with the modern Feminist movement and more to do with the modern “disempower our children” movement. The college sexual assault issue is complicated, because there are lot of things that are being treated as sexual assault which are not (but it seems that students are no longer of dealing with those issues without involving the authorities and making claims of sexual assault), but there has also been a history of failing to prosecute actual rapes (and that’s also a serious problem).

    But sure, let’s blame the folks who are fighting to ensure that women have equal rights and opportunities as men (shocker, that means many of them are fighting for MEN’S rights, too). Blaming them totally solves the problem. Double eyeroll.

  27. Kimberly October 20, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    Jim Collins —

    Actually, yes. In fact, while I was interning with the local probation department as part of my undergraduate degree, I tagged along with one of the PO’s that dealt with sex offenders. We visited the home of a woman who was on house arrest and had two, yes, TWO monitoring devices. She was on probation for one crime and on parole for a second one (both sex offenses).

    I should’ve asked the PO at the time how that could happen. I mean, logistically I get it. But seriously? I never did ask though, because I was so surprised by seeing an ankle bracelet on each leg.

  28. LaMom October 20, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    I do not agree that the girl did nothing wrong. She lied & nearly ruined this young mans life. There needs to be consequences for these young girls running around lying about their ages. They shouldn’t be let off the hook. And yes, I am a mother to 3 girls & 1 boy.

  29. Jo October 20, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    This is one more win for the thousands out there that have been convicted children. My son in law is one and the judge said that he needed to make an example out of my son in law. 19 and a 14 year old who was weeks from being 15. She’s even stated on Facebook that she was the initiator of the sex and she said she was 17.

    Based on everything I’ve read, the mother and step father, who physically abused the girl, were being investigated by DYFS. She had been thrown out of the house for fighting with her mother when my son in law met her, which would lead a person to believe she was of age. When the girls room was gone through they found her diary and she wrote that she had sex with him. The mother filed charges. (It worked, all the investigations against the parents stopped and my son in law was the priority.)

    The police officer came to him, who was his former football coach, acting like a friend asking for his side of the story, told the truth. He arrested him, and it was from there on for 8 years now my son in law has suffered.

    By the way, this judge didn’t think it was wrong when a local policeman was caught having sex with a cow on one of the local farms. How about this Judges judgement?

  30. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    “The concept of “mens rhea” should be applied here, but that would require thinking.”

    The concept of mens rea has been applied here, unless you think the sex happened accidentally.

  31. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    “I do not agree that the girl did nothing wrong.”

    Did nothing wrong and did nothing legally wrong are different things.

  32. Warren October 20, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    Both my daughters agree that the girl in this story needs some sort of consequence. Their suggestion was for her to be on the hook to cover any and all legal costs, loss of income and such.

  33. Anne Huddleston October 20, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    I agree Lenore – you had a lot to do with making this young man’s story public and thus changing his sentence!!

    BEBE — As to the girl, she could have stood on the judge’s desk and screamed she is not a victim but it wouldn’t have counted for anything because UNDER THE LAW a minor cannot consent to sex. In this context “cannot” means incapable, in the same way someone passed out drunk would be incapable of consenting to sex. The law holds that minors are INCAPABLE of making such decisions for themselves. Now, you and I might know she was a curious horny teenager who lied but THE LAW will not agree with you. It is ALL PART OF THE INFANTILIZATION Lenore and others talk about.

  34. John October 20, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    Quote from the Judge:

    “You went online, to use a fisherman’s expression, trolling for women, to meet and have sex with,” scolded Wiley. “That seems to be part of our culture now. Meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this.”

    This all may be true Mr. Wiley BUT that’s not the point! The question is, was Zack knowingly stalking children on the internet to meet and have sex with? That is what the case you had presided over was meant to determine and not whether or not going on line to meet people for sex was moral or immoral. The answer to the more important question is NO he was not stalking children!

    Personally I have known and have seen a fair portion of 13- and 14-year-old girls who could easily pass for 17- and even 18-years-old. I have know 5′ 10″ and taller 13- and 14-year-old boys with sideburns and beards who could easily pass for 20. ALL of these “kids” I just mentioned could have easily deceived an adult into thinking that they also were adults. Well, these “kids” are not innocent just because they’re legally kids nor are they victims and the law needs to address that! I’m so happy that Zack’s punishment for this “crime” is greatly being reduced and that he can finally get on with his life. BUT it never should have gotten to that point. The law needs some major tweaking and should not be a one size fits all as is common in child molestation cases.

    One of the bloggers below the linked article alluded to the fact that this is a modern day witch hunt where young males with hormones are the witches and people such as Judge Wiley are the torch bearers hunting down the witches. How true and it’s got to change in a Democracy such as the United States!

  35. Anne Huddleston October 20, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    I agree Lenore – you had a lot to do with making this young man’s story public and thus changing his sentence!!

    BEBE — As to the girl, she could have stood on the judge’s desk and screamed she is not a victim but it wouldn’t have counted for anything because UNDER THE LAW a minor cannot consent to sex. In this context “cannot” means incapable, in the same way someone passed out drunk would be incapable of consenting to sex. The law holds that minors are INCAPABLE of making such decisions for themselves. Now, you and I might know she was a curious horny teenager who lied but THE LAW will not agree with you. It is ALL PART OF THE INFANTILIZATION Lenore and others talk about.

    Another totally incongruous aspect is the mixed messages going ’round about when adulthood and complete responsibility begins. At 19 this young man was considered fully capable of adult decision making and responsibility. Yet the latest science says the brain and prefrontal cortex is not fully developed for making rational decisions until 25. So which is it? – Is a 19 year old a kid or an adult??? College students (typical age 18-22) are totally sheltered on their campuses. Put them out in the real world with jobs and we expect them to act like any other adult. See what I mean? MIXED MESSAGES!!

  36. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    “THE LAW will not agree with you. It is ALL PART OF THE INFANTILIZATION Lenore and others talk about.”

    Yes, legally she is an infant, but not for the reason you think. The legal term “infant” is archaic for “minor”.

    See definition #2.
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/infant?s=t

  37. Doug October 20, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    Mens rhea is the idea that one has to intend to break the law. The girl lied about her age. Did Zach intend to find an underage girl? No. Therefore, although the action occurred, there was no intent to commit the crime. Under mens rhea, no crime had been committed.

    Honestly, James, are we all supposed to walk around with a perfect repository of information stuck in our heads?
    When, in the history of the world, has anyone had perfect information?

  38. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    “The question is, was Zack knowingly stalking children on the internet to meet and have sex with? That is what the case you had presided over was meant to determine”

    No, the legal question in play was “did he have sex with a person who was incapable of consenting to have sex?” and the answer is “yes”.

    You may think the law is a bad one. Me, too. Heck, even the judge might think so… but it doesn’t matter, because judges work with the law as it is, not how they think it should be, and under the law as it is, he’s guilty.

    He’s not guilty because he intended to be guilty, he’s guilty because he was reckless.

    Here’s a similar setup. Suppose someone is in a street race. They are driving very fast and near the limits of their abilities to control the vehicle, and… oops, the other guy is beyond his, and he loses control, causing his car to tap the first car. Because of the tap, the car leaves the road, crashes through a fence, and goes right through the playground at the orphanage during basketball, injuring 4 kids, and killing 6 kids and a nun. When the day started, did this guy set out to kill six kids and a nun? Nope. But the choices he DID make led to that outcome, and he gets punished for it.

  39. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    “Mens rhea is the idea that one has to intend to break the law.”

    This is not what mens rea means.

  40. Papilio October 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    A lot better than it was, but still very frustrating and ridiculous that such a minor event should have consequences of these proportions. No, the girl shouldn’t have to face any legal consequences, because this shouldn’t be a case in the first place. There is no victim. There was no crime. Let it go.

  41. Jim Collins October 20, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    I’ll stand corrected on my statement about women being on the Sex Offenders registry.

    Andrea,
    I’m going by their deeds not their words. The Duke Lacrosse incident will bear me out on that one. As for college campuses go you may have a point, but, when has a woman been found at fault? I’d think that women would find this insulting that they are not capable of making their own decisions, but, nobody’s protesting it.

  42. Mandy October 20, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    I’m very glad this young man has fought against the sentence and got some justice.

    I still have one question for which I can’t seem to find an answer – how did the authorities get involved in the first place? How did they know the two of them had even met that evening?

  43. BL October 20, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    @Mandy
    “how did the authorities get involved in the first place?”

    According to the linked NYT article:

    “Authorities got involved, ultimately resulting in the criminal charges, after the girl’s mother called for help the evening of Dec. 19, wondering where her daughter was as she met with Zach Anderson. She worried the girl would miss a dose of medicine.”

  44. Doug October 20, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    James, yes, that is what it means. It’s Latin for “guilty mind.”

    Did he intent to have sex with an underage girl? No.

    Contrast that to the “To Catch a Predator” crap: a woman sets up a man, lets him know she’s underage, and he shows up. Guilty mind.

  45. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    “James, yes, that is what it means. It’s Latin for “guilty mind.” ”

    I know what it’s Latin for, thanks. However “guilty mind” doesn’t mean “you have to intend to break a law in order to do it.” You don’t have to have intent to break a law to break a law that has a mens rea requirement.
    Have you ever heard the saying that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”? If your reading of mens rea were correct, then it would be.

    “Did he intent to have sex with an underage girl?”
    He sure did. And then he did it. He totally intended to have sex. Are you claiming that he did not?
    The girl he intended to have sex with was (and still is) underage.

  46. andy October 20, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    @James Pollock Too much of a discretion is a bad thing too. No discretion is not the only problem with zero tolerance policies and the smaller one at that. The bigger problem is that those rules are dumb. If your rules treat aspiring the same way as marijuana and gun toy as real gun, then lack of discretion is not the main problem.

    It is not binary and how much of a discretion should be there is a scale. The difference between 25 years and 90 months punishment absolutely is too much of a discretion.

    Every kid being punished the same way for real gun in school and not at all for aspirin is the kind of lack of discretion I could easily live with.

  47. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    “Too much of a discretion is a bad thing too.”
    Duh.

    ” No discretion is not the only problem with zero tolerance policies and the smaller one at that. The bigger problem is that those rules are dumb. If your rules treat aspiring the same way as marijuana and gun toy as real gun, then lack of discretion is not the main problem.”

    So, the fact that they can’t use discretion means that lack of discretion isn’t the problem?
    PS. In my state, aspirin and marijuana are both legal.

    “Every kid being punished the same way for real gun in school and not at all for aspirin is the kind of lack of discretion I could easily live with.”
    So… you’d be OK if we treated the kid who showed up and tried to murder 100 people the same as we treated the one who forgot to take the rifle out of his truck’s gun rack Monday morning after coming home from hunting over the weekend the same? Should we also treat the kid who finds a gun near the fenceline of the school, and brings it in to hand in to the teacher, the same as the one who’s shooting up the playground?

  48. Librarymomma October 20, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    I found a great definition of “mens rea” here: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/mens+rea. I studied to be a paralegal years ago and had heard the term but couldn’t remember its meaning. But basically, a person can be convicted of some crimes (which ones were not listed on the site) with or without intending to commit the crime.

    I worry about these laws because I have a child who is getting older and at some point will be interested in dating. Does anyone know of a good resource that can help parents discuss with their children?

  49. andy October 20, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    @James Pollock “the fact that they can’t use discretion means that lack of discretion isn’t the problem?”

    The rule itself being stupid in the first place is way bigger problem then lack of discretion.

    “PS. In my state, aspirin and marijuana are both legal.”

    School zero tolerance policies are not law. Legality of the thing does not mean school allows it too. Marijuana being legal in your state is great thing, but not relevant to topic.

    “So… you’d be OK if we treated the kid who showed up and tried to murder 100 people the same as we treated the one who forgot to take the rifle out of his truck’s gun rack Monday morning after coming home from hunting over the weekend the same?”

    The murder part makes those two things different, don’t you thing? You do not even need to punish the “brought the gun to school” part different way in both cases. You just need to punish “killed people” differently then “brought the gun to school”. You still do not need all that much discretion or even none at all.

    “Should we also treat the kid who finds a gun near the fenceline of the school, and brings it in to hand in to the teacher, the same as the one who’s shooting up the playground?”

    Same as above, the murder part makes two things fundamental different. It is not even hard to have different rules for killing people and carrying guns around. You simply assume stupidest rules in the world. That does not make case for need of discretion nor case for anarchy. That makes case for better rules.

  50. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    “The rule itself being stupid in the first place is way bigger problem then lack of discretion.”

    The rule is stupid BECAUSE it doesn’t allow discretion.

    “School zero tolerance policies are not law”
    Except where they are.

    “’So… you’d be OK if we treated the kid who showed up and tried to murder 100 people the same as we treated the one who forgot to take the rifle out of his truck’s gun rack Monday morning after coming home from hunting over the weekend the same?’

    The murder part makes those two things different, don’t you thing?”
    Yep. That’s why your suggestion of treating them the same would be comical.

    “’Should we also treat the kid who finds a gun near the fenceline of the school, and brings it in to hand in to the teacher, the same as the one who’s shooting up the playground?”

    Same as above, the murder part makes two things fundamental different.”
    There’s, um, no murder part in there.

  51. andy October 20, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

    @James Pollock “The rule is stupid BECAUSE it doesn’t allow discretion.”

    Are you just trolling or something? Because lack discretion have zero to do with why those rules are bad. “Punishment for killing is X and punishment for bringing gun is always Y” does not allow discretion and is still gazillion times better then your one.

    ““School zero tolerance policies are not law”
    Except where they are.”

    Zero tolerance rules that punish drawings are not based on law. Zero tolerance rules for drugs in schools are not based on which drug is illegal, all of them are not allowed in school.

    “Yep. That’s why your suggestion of treating them the same would be comical.”

    You are lying, I suggested no such thing. First, you do not need the discretion to treat them differently and second it does not matter because your argument is based on lie.

    “There’s, um, no murder part in there.”

    Shooting up the playground did not involved killing? Well then just a little thought up rules still distinguish between the two without having need for much of discretion.

    Back to topic, if you need the discretion ranging from 90 months up to 25 years, then it is clear sign your rules are bad and not detailed enough. The discretion you demand is quite close to “no rules at all”. That is usually very bad policy.

  52. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 7:47 pm #

    “Are you just trolling or something? Because lack discretion have zero to do with why those rules are bad. “Punishment for killing is X and punishment for bringing gun is always Y” does not allow discretion and is still gazillion times better then your one. ”

    I’m afraid you’ve gone off the rails a little bit here. Better than my one what?

    “Zero tolerance rules that punish drawings are not based on law.”
    Except where they are.

    “Zero tolerance rules for drugs in schools are not based on which drug is illegal, all of them are not allowed in school.”
    Depends on where they are, how they are written, and how they came to be.

    “’Yep. That’s why your suggestion of treating them the same would be comical.’
    You are lying, I suggested no such thing.”
    Dude, I quote your exact words. You said “Every kid being punished the same way for real gun in school”. I gave a bunch of good reasons why you might not want to punish every kid the same way for real guns in school. Calling me a liar for quoting your exact words? Not very bright.

    “’There’s, um, no murder part in there.’
    Shooting up the playground did not involved killing?”
    No, vandalism and murder are different things. Unless, I guess, you think all crimes involving a real gun at school are the same.

    You said something dumb, you got called on it, you doubled down, and got called on it, and you tried calling me a liar even though I’m quoting your exact words every step of the way. Got anything else, or are we done here?

  53. Buffy October 20, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    Yes, he’s trolling.

  54. James Pollock October 20, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

    “Yes, he’s trolling.”

    That’s you.

  55. Richard October 20, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

    Statutory rape has traditionally been a strict liability crime in the United States, rather than one requiring mens rea. Basically, the view was that you shouldn’t be having sex with anyone you don’t know so well that you could not be ignorant of her age. A mistake of fact such as his belief the girl was seventeen is a defense against many criminal charges.

  56. Momof8 October 20, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

    The judge who sentenced Zachary is a closet perv. Or maybe a porn addict? Methinks he doth protest too much.

  57. andy October 21, 2015 at 3:51 am #

    @James Pollock “You said “Every kid being punished the same way for real gun in school”. I gave a bunch of good reasons why you might not want to punish every kid the same way for real guns in school. Calling me a liar for quoting your exact words? Not very bright.”

    No, you gave an example of a kid that killed someone and pretended it is under the same rule as just bringing gun in. Then you gave example of someone who shoots up the playground and pretended it is under the same rule as just bringing gun in.

    You conflated the two into one, but said I was treating them the same. That is a lie.

  58. andy October 21, 2015 at 3:54 am #

    @James Pollock “No, vandalism and murder are different things. Unless, I guess, you think all crimes involving a real gun at school are the same.”

    Yes, exactly, that is why you do not need all that much discretion. Just punish vandalism different then murder and both different then bringing gun into school. However, you can still punish highly charismatic rich kid the same way as poor one you do not like with very little discretion needed.

    And stop lying please.

  59. J.T. Wenting October 21, 2015 at 4:16 am #

    “He’s not guilty because he intended to be guilty, he’s guilty because he was reckless.”

    no, he was framed. He asked the girl her age, she lied.
    They had sex, him under the impression she was 17 when she was actually 14.

    That’s the same as the police setting up a 15mph sign in a 35mph zone, covering it up with a tarpaulin, and then fining vehicles doing 30 in that zone because there’s a lower speed limit posted.

    It’s called entrapment.

  60. sexhysteria October 21, 2015 at 4:32 am #

    Judge Dennis Wiley is guilty of abuse of office. He himself admits what upset him was the boy’s politically incorrect view of sex. That judge needs to be thrown in jail for 25 years as an example for the rest of the judges who abuse their power. What the hell are the politicians waiting for? Why aren’t the candidates expressing outrage about this situation?

  61. GoodJob October 21, 2015 at 6:18 am #

    Great job Lenore!!!!

  62. Doug October 21, 2015 at 7:03 am #

    James, ignorance of the law is claimed to be no excuse, but there is no evidence to suggest he was ignorant. He showed poor judgement, but if poor judgement was against the law everyone would be in jail. Yes, even you.

    Your response the perfect example of why we need people like Lenore and sites like FRK.

  63. James Pollock October 21, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    “You conflated the two into one, but said I was treating them the same. That is a lie”

    So, you DIDN’T say ““Every kid being punished the same way for real gun in school”.?

  64. James Pollock October 21, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    “no, he was framed.”
    He was not framed. He did it. He said he did it. Everybody knows he did it… except your you, apparently.

    “It’s called entrapment.”
    It might be called entrapment by someone who doesn’t know what entrapment is (and isn’t).

  65. James Pollock October 21, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    “James, ignorance of the law is claimed to be no excuse, but there is no evidence to suggest he was ignorant.”
    Nor has there been a claim that he was, until now.
    When he decided to have sex with her, he didn’t know that it would be illegal for him to do so. However, the law, as written, does not excuse it.
    The legal question isn’t “did he know he was having sex with an underage girl when he did it? If so, then he’s guilty.” It’s just “did he have sex with an underage person? If so, then he’s guilty.”

    “He showed poor judgement, but if poor judgement was against the law everyone would be in jail.”
    Sometimes poor judgment IS against the law. Recklessness is criminalized in several ways. Vehicular homicide, for example. This is another one of them. Bad judgment (choosing to have sex with someone without knowing if they’re of age) IS against the law, and, no, I would not be in jail because of it.

    Yes, even you.

  66. theresa hall October 21, 2015 at 9:07 am #

    if someone has to be punish for this stunt then it should miss I’m 17 but I’m really 14. then people might think before lying about ages

  67. James Pollock October 21, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    ““Every kid being punished the same way for real gun in school”

    Kid #1 comes in with a handgun. He waves it around a lot, and points it at kid #2, threatening to shoot kid #2 unless kid @2 does exactly as ordered.

    Kid #3 surprises kid #1, and, while they’re wrestling for control of the gun, kid #2 flees. Kid #3 ultimately succeeds in taking the gun away from kid #1, and subsequently holds kid #1 at gunpoint until police arrive and secure both kid #1 and the gun.

    Since you want every kid punished the same way for real gun in school, obviously, kid #1 and kid #3 should both face the same punishment… they each pointed a firearm at another student and threatened to shoot them.

  68. Doug October 21, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    Poor judgement is not criminal recklessness.

    How, exactly, are people supposed to live in your world? Do they carry around electronic ID information so your scanner can show you where they’ve been, how old they are, and if they happen to have remnants of a banned substance in their bloodstream?

  69. James Pollock October 21, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    “Poor judgement is not criminal recklessness.”

    No, criminal recklessness is poor judgment.

    “How, exactly, are people supposed to live in your world?”

    We call it the “real world”, and people have been managing to live in it for rather quite a while.

  70. elizabeth October 21, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    This makes me happy. And as for the girl lying…average female height is 5′ 4″ to 5′ 6″. If a thirteen or fourteen year old has reached that height and has noticeable adult features- like i did at thirteen (i had a good pair of breasts and noticeable curves and from thirteen to fifteen looked older than my age)- they could easily lie and get away with it. This does not mean that Zach did anything wrong.

  71. James Pollock October 21, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    “This does not mean that Zach did anything wrong.”

    Neither “but she looked 18/16” nor “she told me she was 18/16” is a defense that the court will entertain. He’s an adult, so he has the responsibility to make sure that she is, too. (and this is true in cases with different combinations of gender, too. If “he” is 15 and “she” is 19, or if “she” is 15 and “she” is 19.)
    Being an adult brings a lot of freedoms… but some responsibility, too.

  72. Doug October 21, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    Or another example. I engaged in a discussion with an internet troll. That showed poor judgment on my part. It was not criminally reckless, although I’m sure it is annoying to the large number of non-trolls on the site.

  73. marie October 21, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    @Doug:
    Yes, it is annoying. Lol.

    Not specifically @Doug:
    Explaining to us what the law IS is less than useful when many of us are arguing that the law should be changed.

  74. James Pollock October 21, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    “Explaining to us what the law IS is less than useful when many of us are arguing that the law should be changed.”

    You know that I’m one of “us”, right?

    Anyways, a discussion of “what the law should be” typically starts with “what is the law now” and “why should it be changed?”, which is where you explore the reasons why the law is what it is. Then you can start looking at what the alternatives are, and what effects (both intended and unintended) any proposed changes would (or might) cause. Then you can consider whether the proposed changes are better than, about the same as, or worse than what you already have.

    This is not the same as saying “this result sucks. The law should be different”. That’s just whining, and solves nothing.

    The law is now that having sex with someone without their consent is rape. From there, the law considers just what “consent” means… does it mean not objecting at the time? Signed, notarized statements? Something in between? Then, there’s the question of whether a person is even CAPABLE of consenting in a meaningful way. Since that’s a very difficult question to answer, we use age as a proxy. Courts are directed that persons under X years of age cannot form meaningful consent, no matter how much it looks like this individual can.

    I think you could fix a good deal of the unfairness of statutory rape law with a simple fix… change the irrebuttable presumption that an underage person cannot consent to sex into a rebuttable one.

    I do not think you can fix it by restricting the discretion of judges to impose sentence.

  75. Tommy Udo October 21, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    Judges have too much power, unchecked power, to ruin people’s lives.

  76. Vickie Summers October 22, 2015 at 2:37 am #

    We are going through the same thing in Lancaster, PA. I am talking to people all over and none of the results are consistent. Seems that judges and District Attorneys can just set the rules for what they think at the time. This needs to change. My Grandson life is going to be ruined for one day.

  77. andy October 22, 2015 at 3:53 am #

    @James Pollock October Your examples just confirm my point – you assume stupidly designed rules and then demand discretion to make results more reasonable. Discretion wont fix anything.

    Lets assume that the kid who waved gun was popular and charismatic while the one who wrestled was unpopular nerdy and poor. Discretion will assign small punishment to popular gun waver and big one to unpopular poor nerd. Because that is what too much discretion does – high charisma gets you out of trouble or at least greatly minizes it. Meanwhile unpopular people gets to be targeted by higher punishments.

    None of that require huge amount of discretion and only one of those kids brought gun into school anyway. Only one of those is subject to that rule assuming person who defined the rule used more then 2 minutes to word it. All reasonable rules distinguish between those acts and do not even have to be long. You could find a nuanced example where different act fall into the same thing, but you keep making stupid example where kids do extremely different things and then assume rules in questions are stupid.

    If the possible punishment ranges between 90 months and 25 years, then your rules have too much discretion. You need to make the rules more granular to fix them instead of making excuses. Otherwise people end up being sentenced for being unlikable or doing unrelated out of mainstream atcs.

  78. andy October 22, 2015 at 3:57 am #

    @James Pollock “Anyways, a discussion of “what the law should be” typically starts with “what is the law now” and “why should it be changed?”, which is where you explore the reasons why the law is what it is. Then you can start looking at what the alternatives are, and what effects (both intended and unintended) any proposed changes would (or might) cause. Then you can consider whether the proposed changes are better than, about the same as, or worse than what you already have.”

    No James, people who want to criticize or change law are not be required to write long essay on history of that law. That is just obstacle you want there to make criticism harder. You like the law and instead of defending it by arguments, you find it easier to demand that other people make your arguments for you as part of some kind of mandatory introduction. It is your job to defend the law if you like it.

  79. James Pollock October 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    ” you assume stupidly designed rules”
    You got me there. I assumed the rules you said you wanted.

    “Lets assume that the kid who waved gun was popular and charismatic while the one who wrestled was unpopular nerdy and poor. Discretion will assign small punishment to popular gun waver and big one to unpopular poor nerd”
    Your conclusion doesn’t follow from your assumption, or common sense, either.
    I’m ignoring the rest of this rant… moving on to the next one.

    “No James, people who want to criticize or change law are not be required to write long essay on history of that law.”
    No, andy. Nobody said that people who want to criticize or change the law are required to “write long essay on history of that law.”

    “You like the law and instead of defending it by arguments”
    If your analysis of what I’ve written is that I like the (this) law, it’s fairly clear that talking about it with you is a waste of time.

  80. andy October 24, 2015 at 5:52 am #

    @James Pollock “You got me there. I assumed the rules you said you wanted.”

    This is the lie, plain and simple. I never said I want rules that punish murder the same as vandalism. I said that the act of bringing the gun in can be punished the same way for everybody, precisely because you normally have different punishment for that more important part – killing a person or destroying a property or endangering people.

    “Your conclusion doesn’t follow from your assumption, or common sense, either.
    I’m ignoring the rest of this rant… moving on to the next one.”

    They do, actually. Your idea of discretion is to have one big box for murder, vandalism and possession and then range of punishments from smallest to biggest to be given out on whim.

    The result of such rules is always the same: highly charismatic people or those with high social status get smaller punishment for bigger crimes then unpopular people with low social status. That is what you advocate for, you just like to pretend that such effect does not exist.

  81. James Pollock October 24, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    “This is the lie, plain and simple. I never said I want rules that punish murder the same as vandalism.”

    “Every kid being punished the same way for real gun in school and not at all for aspirin is the kind of lack of discretion I could easily live with.”

    So you can’t remember what you wrote, and you can’t seem to descern what I said. So you make up stuff to attribute to me, and complaing that people are lying when they quote your exact words. Done.