Zach Anderson, 19, On Sex Offender List for 25 Years for Consensual Teen Sex, to Get New Trial

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This should tell you something about how meaningless and capricious the “Sex Offender” label is: Zach Anderson, the rrknhsttyh
Elkhart, Indiana 19-year-old labeled a sex offender for having consensual sex
with a girl who said she was 17 (but turned out to be 14), has had his sentence “vacated.” That means it’s as if his case had never been sentenced. It will be heard anew by a different judge.

The judge who originally sentenced him to a quarter century of pariah-dom, including no internet, no talking to minors, no living near a school, no smart phone, and no staying out past 8 p.m., grudgingly admitted that perhaps the case had been legally compromised by the prosecution. In Zach’s plea deal, the prosecutor had promised not to influence the judge’s ruling. But right before sentencing, he reminded the judge that he had given two other young men harsh sentences for similar “crimes.” (EXTREMELY similar — see this story of Darian Yoder. I hope that somehow he gets his sentence tossed, too.)

But here’s the rub: If the sentence had stood — which likely it would have, were it not for Zach’s parents’ activism, the South Bend Tribune’s dogged reporter Virginia Black, and the subsequent glare of public scrutiny — most people who saw the dot representing Zach on a sex offender map would have considered him human scum. They’d probably have  been terrified to live near him, or hire him. He’d have been reviled as a child rapist, thanks to the label “sex offender.”

But if another judge hears his case and rules the way most of us hope — that here’s a young man who had sex with a girl he thought was about his age and who herself begged the judge to drop the charges — suddenly Zach is just one of us. A normal young man, the end.

So…one judge can decide a human is a vile and damn him to life on the registry. And another judge can decide that very same human is no menace to society at all.

The fact that the sex offender laws are so over-broad, that prosecutors have the right to create such Draconian plea deals, and that judges have the power to ruin lives on a whim (Judge Wiley seems to have disapproved of hook up culture in general, and used his bench to vent his disgust)  should radicalize us all.

The sex offender laws must change. It is far too easy to be labeled The Worst of the Worst simply for getting caught having  consensual sex (or consensual sexting) that someone else disapproves of.

There are almost a million people in America registered as sex offenders. I shudder to think how very few deserve that label — and how very close Zach Anderson came to being one of “them.”

Zach Anderson, 19, to get retrial on sex offender sentence.

Looking up: Zach Anderson, 19, to get new trial on sex offender charge.

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80 Responses to Zach Anderson, 19, On Sex Offender List for 25 Years for Consensual Teen Sex, to Get New Trial

  1. Bebe September 8, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

    I’m so glad to read this update. It makes me question how many teens and young adults in my own state of WA have been victimized by a one-size-made-for-all law, where if you gave sex with someone who lies about their age or its just two high school horny teens having sex and then a parent walks in and cries rape. If John Doe has sex with Jane Doe., he’s 17 and she’s 16, both of consent age, in WA state, and a parent walks in and is the only one who cries rape, in the eyes of the law John is adult prison age so he can be charged with a rape that wasn’t rape. It frightens me to think how many John Does there are here in the US alone. I think that our next president should make revising sex offender statutes a priority, with first focusing on men and women who never raped but had teenage sex like this fellow, case by case reduce or rescind their sentences, erase their labels and exonerate them, and make the news of every revived person public. Well, that’s what I would do.

  2. James Pollock September 9, 2015 at 12:23 am #

    In NC, you don’t even have to have sex with them, just sending naked photos gets you charged with a crime.

  3. George September 9, 2015 at 12:34 am #

    The term “Consensual Teen Sex” is incorrect. The girl had not reached the age of consent, so it was not legally consensual.

    Maybe you could call it non-forcible sexual relations, or something like that.

    I agree with most of what you say, but if you are going to opposed statutory rape laws, then I have to disagree. A grown man should not get to bang my 14yo daughter, no matter what his story is.

  4. TheOtherAnna September 9, 2015 at 12:55 am #

    George, if your 14-year-old daughter is ready to have sex and actively seeks it out, the “grown man” to whom she lies about her age in order to get him to have sex with her should not be considered a rapist.

  5. Peter Brülls September 9, 2015 at 3:11 am #

    @George There’s legality and there’s reality. That a 14 year old can’t give consent is obviously a legality. Someone decided that this is the cutoff date for giving consent. Curiously enough, in my country it also starts with 14, though it’s a tiered system, not one of the all-or-nothing system Americans seem to be so fond of.

    The reality is that humans actively seek out sexual experiences once their hormones kick in and that’s what happened here. There was no coercion involved, the girl actively sought out sex and was willing to lie to get it and was apparently perfectly able to do so, in a rather complex manner.

    Considering that 14 year old are charged with murder sometimes, claiming that they can be responsible for such an heinous act, makes it utterly bizarre that such a 14 year old was supposedly not aware of what she was doing.

  6. Shelly Stow September 9, 2015 at 7:44 am #

    George, maybe mutually willing would be a better term. I do not oppose statutory rape laws per se, but I highly oppose criminalizing sexual activity between two willing teens or between a willing teen and a young adult.

    The newspaper articles say his sentence will be vacated and he will receive a new sentence by a different judge. I’m not sure that equates to getting a new trial. I’m not sure he wants a new trial–or actually a first trial. Remember, he took a plea before. If a jury is told they must decide his innocence or guilt based on the hard, cold facts, he would be in trouble. The hard cold facts are: he is an adult; she is a minor, and a young minor at that; he went across state lines to seek out a minor and had sex with her. Those facts convict him. He would be taking a chance and hoping for jury nullification, and I am told that doesn’t happen very often. A new sentence that will not destroy his life by bringing his education to a halt and by putting him on the evil pubic registry seems the optimum outcome to me.

  7. Jen September 9, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    An interesting article on the topic:
    http://www.theweek.com/articles/575396/insane-logic-sexting-prosecutions

  8. Donna September 9, 2015 at 8:25 am #

    George – Illegal and lack of consent are not the same thing. People can consent to any number of things that are not legal. For example, a president of a bank can consent to the robbery of his bank. His consent does not make it legal to rob the bank. Same for sex. The fact that the girl is underage does not mean that she cannot consent to sex; it simply means her consent is legally invalid.

    And you are correct, I don’t want my 14 year old daughter having sex with grown men. However, if my 14 year old daughter is consenting to sex with grown men and seeking out sex with grown men and even lying about her age to have sex with grown men, that is our problem and not his problem. He is ABSOLUTELY NOT a rapist. He absolutely should not be branded a rapist or a criminal. I don’t give a rat’s ass about him at all. I care solely about understanding why my child is seeking this type of attention at such a young age and addressing that problem.

    In fact, I don’t want my 14 year old daughter (or son if I had one) to have sex with ANYONE. I don’t care if her partner is 14 or 24 or 44. There is something missing emotionally that needs to be addressed in ANY situation where a 14 year old is willingly engaging in sex, especially casual sex like we have here. Age is completely irrelevant to me. I am not going to be all “oh he is only 14 too? Okay, here are some condoms; have fun dear.” I may look to the age of her partner to try to determine whether my daughter truly consented, but if I am convinced that she did, he and his age become completely meaningless to me. Why she made that choice is my only concern.

    I think too many parents of girls hide behind the stat rape laws rather than open their eyes to the fact that there is a problem in their own family. It is easy to pass the blame onto someone else and then never address the self-esteem and emotional issues your own daughter has that made her make the choices that she made. Parents need to take responsibility for what is going on in their own home and stop worrying about everyone else.

  9. Jules September 9, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    @Donna so right you are! I remember at the age of 14, my dad found a condom in my pocket that someone was passing around at school. Instead of discussing why I had it and the implications of sex at 14, he said “sex with anyone at 14 is illegal.” Never mind that I wasn’t sexually active, he hid behind a law rather than have a conversation with me. Throwing a teen’s mutually complicit parter in jail shouldn’t ever be a substitute for being a caring and involved parent!

  10. mystic_eye_cda September 9, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    There’s no consistency at all in how we treat children – the laws for allowing them control over their bodies, voting, criminally responsible, able sign legal contracts (leases, etc), protect them from discrimination in access to services, housing, and employment, are all over the map. We give them access to STD screening, but we let parents to remove them from sex ed classes. We try them as adults but don’t let them vote and have some say in the people who create those laws.

    It’s not so long ago in most places that the age of consent was 14 but that you often needed to be 16 to access reproductive health services – including advice and STD screening without parental consent. Now across North America we’ve mostly settled on 16 (the rest are 17 or 18) as the age of consent for sex and yet in more and more places cases have eliminated the age of consent for reproductive medical care or lowered it to 12, 14, etc.

    In Missouri, for example, a parent can consent to their 15-year-old marrying a 21-year-old but outside of that happening a 16-year-old having sex with a 21-year-old is statutory rape even if the parents say the 14-year-old is capable of consent and consented. Until 2017 only if the 21-year-old is male – A 40-year-old woman can have sex with a 14-year-old and that’s not a crime under the current law.

  11. LilJennyWren September 9, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    As I read in some Heinlein novel once, the narrator opined that carnal knowledge of a statue had little place in a normal society’s laws.

    I’m not making light of the situation. I just personally believe that people should use logic instead of emotion in situations like these.

    When I was fourteen, due to life and my own stupidity, I involved myself with a man quite a bit older than myself. Someone in authority found out, and turned him in for statutory rape.

    This being about twenty years ago, when I flatly denied to press charges, they had to dump it. Good on them! I’d been the one that lied; he thought I was of age due to MY statements. Why should he pay for my stupidity?

    I needed help, but not the courts to brand an innocent man as a child rapist just because I was a manipulative liar.

    Now I have daughters, and no, I don’t want them having sex. I’m not stupid, though, and will ensure that IF they do end up going against my wishes, they will have the information needed to do it as safely as is possible.

    And should I find that they repeat my mistakes…I will investigate instead of freaking out about the male first.

    Lurker signing out.

  12. J.T. Wenting September 9, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    Hope things work different from here. Here, once you’re on “the list” your life is over.
    Even if you’re on it for a few days only, some vigilante group will have your name on their list and they NEVER delete it, you will be hit with hordes of people demanding you’re forced out of your house, your job, the city you call home, where ever you decide to settle down and restart your life.
    Suicide rates are high among such people, obviously. A select few manage to change their name, appearance, and emigrate, but most of them end up either homeless or suicide statistics or both.

  13. George September 9, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    A minor (under the age of 18) cannot even sign a legally binding contract. I am glad the parents here are rearing their 14yo girls to be responsible, but we do not hold them legally responsible like an adult.

    Zach deserves some punishment. After serving his punishment, he needs some way to lead a normal life.

    I would prefer if the sex offender databases just included particularly violent or perverted offenses. As it is, the list is useless because most of those on it committed fairly minor offenses.

  14. Vicky September 9, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    The goose that laid the golden political egg. The Sex Offender registry is a life long punishment that lumps those who have a victim, in with those who have no victim. It lumps two people, who by law can legally married with people who cannot legally get married. It creates crimes where in almost the entire history of the United States, were not crimes. It violates civil liberties and destroys the lives of innocent people in every way it’s possible to destroy a life without actually killing them. From the very young to the very old. No one is safe because many of the laws implemented are laws that punish ‘thought’ rather than action.

  15. John September 9, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    @Donna & Jules……you ladies are spot-on with your assessment as far as I’m concerned. ANYTIME a young teenager, be it a boy or a girl, is pursuing sex with an adult via social media or otherwise, there is an issue going on with that kid and maybe with his family too. But so many of these sex abuse counselors and Child Psychologists are just too stupid to understand that and put it all on the adult and completely ignore the problems going on inside the kid’s head. It’s as if they’re convinced the adult somehow casted a spell over the kid from 5 or more miles away.

  16. John September 9, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    @George……just because we don’t hold 14-year-old kids LEGALLY responsible does not mean they don’t bear any responsibility in these matters. As far as I’m concerned, there is NOTHING Zach needs to be punished for as he assumed she was of legal age and was not stalking underage girls.

  17. LilJennyWren September 9, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    @George

    No way in he-double-hockeysticks does Zack need to be punished.

    Why punish someone who DIDN’T KNOW that his partner wasn’t above the magical Age of Consent?

    Because, you know, a girl that’s fifteen years, 364 days old is much less sexually nature than one on her sixteenth birthday.

    *eyeroll*

    This is an issue between the girl and her parents and perhaps some mental health services, but most definitely not a criminal matter in which a ( pardon my French) horny youngg teenage boy takes a willing, ostensibly legal, partner and does what teenage boys do.

  18. Donna September 9, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    “A minor (under the age of 18) cannot even sign a legally binding contract.”

    This is a completely false statement. Minors enter into all kinds of legally binding contracts all the time. SOME contracts can be disavowed by minors, but no contract is automatically void just because one party was a minor. And contracts entered into by a minor who was lying about his/her age at the time of entry generally CANNOT be disavowed.

  19. bsolar September 9, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    @George: “A minor (under the age of 18) cannot even sign a legally binding contract. I am glad the parents here are rearing their 14yo girls to be responsible, but we do not hold them legally responsible like an adult.”

    Yes we actually do, at least in specific instances and/or on a case-by-case basis. As example a minor might actually be able to sign a legally binding contract for some forms of employment. Likewise minors might be considered legally responsible like adults and face trial as adults with the only exception of the death penalty (which is forbidden for minors since 2005).

  20. Donna September 9, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    “we do not hold them legally responsible like an adult.”

    Sure we do. There are thousands of people sitting in prison for crimes they committed as minors. I currently have a 16 year old charged as an adult for murder. He didn’t kill anyone. He allegedly drove the car during a drive-by shooting. So apparently society believes that he can consent with an adult to commit murder, but not to have sex. My favorite was the client who was charged as an adult for child molestation at 15. He can’t consent to have sex himself, but can somehow consent to molesting someone.

  21. Warren September 9, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    George,
    I raised two girls, and if one of them lied about their age, had sex with an older man, and got him in this legal trouble? You are damn right, someone would be punished, my daughter. And she would be spending every moment of free time to try and right the wrong she committed.

    The girl is not a victim. The only victim is Zach. Mostly a victim of the system, but the girl is not beyond blame here.

  22. Papilio September 9, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    That is good news. Let’s hope the new judge isn’t so eager to ruin young people’s lives.

  23. Beth September 9, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

    “The hard cold facts are: he is an adult; she is a minor”

    Not exactly. The cold hard fact is that she is a minor who lied about her age and presented herself in such a way that he didn’t see the need to question it.

  24. George September 9, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    It appears that some commenters here want to abolish all age-of-consent laws, and all statutory rape laws. If the young girl is sweet-talked into doing something foolish, then it is her own fault. Her parents should have reared her better.

    Is that what you really mean? I do not think that you have thought this thru. Occasionally I hear that proposed by very radical gay or feminist groups, or dirty old men, but not from a parenting site like this.

    Reasonable people can disagree about whether the age should be 14, or 16, or 18. Some places it is as young as 11, or at least it used to be. Is that what you want?

  25. James Pollock September 9, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    “A minor (under the age of 18) cannot even sign a legally binding contract.”

    Consult a licensed professional before acting on this assumption.

  26. James Pollock September 9, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

    “It appears that some commenters here want to abolish all age-of-consent laws, and all statutory rape laws.[…]
    Reasonable people can disagree about whether the age should be 14, or 16, or 18. Some places it is as young as 11, or at least it used to be. Is that what you want?”

    I don’t approve of statutory rape laws. That doesn’t mean I think that all 12-year-olds should be having sex. It means that I think the person who should be deciding if someone is ready for sex, or not, is that same person. If a person is incapable of making that decision (because of developmental delay, or just youthful inexperience) then that’s a rape, of the ordinary kind (engaging in sex without informed consent). Are most 12-year-olds ready? No. Do most 12-year-olds know that they aren’t ready? Yes.

    When I was 16, I knew 16-year-olds who were ready and capable of making an informed decision about engaging in sexual behavior. The law of some states says that they CANNOT POSSIBLY be such, but objectively, they absolutely were. Fast-forward a few decades, and when my daughter was 16, she was capable of making that decision for herself, because I made damn well sure she was. It’s part of my job as a parent. I think you get the best results when you prepare children (and young adults) to make important decisions for themselves, rather then trying to make important decisions for them. (There’s lots of important decisions young people make… whether to have sex, what college (if any) to attend, whether or not to enlist in the armed forces, whether or not to drink, do drugs, drive dangerously… anyone who tries can come up with a couple dozen, easy.)

  27. James Pollock September 9, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

    “no contract is automatically void just because one party was a minor. ”

    Beware of absolutes.
    A contract to appear in a pornographic film is void if one party is a minor.

  28. MarkM September 9, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

    Minor correction – he is not getting a full new trial, just a new sentence from a new judge. Presumably the District Attorney will not break the terms of the plea agreement this time, but there is nothing stopping the next judge from handing down the same punishment.

    This kid is not likely to have much of a life go forward, however, even if he doesn’t end up on the register as a sex offender. His record will show up for years in connection with any decent background check with this offense and his guilty plea.

  29. bsolar September 10, 2015 at 2:50 am #

    @George “It appears that some commenters here want to abolish all age-of-consent laws, and all statutory rape laws. If the young girl is sweet-talked into doing something foolish, then it is her own fault. Her parents should have reared her better.”

    I don’t think it’s a matter of finding a better age. In most countries statutory rape laws allow for some flexibility *on top* of a specific age. A typical allowed defense is when the older partner can demonstrate that he had *reasonable belief* that the younger partner was of legal age, which typically involves something more substantial on top of the young partner looking mature enough. Zach in most countries with statutory rape laws would not be guilty of anything since the younger partner was pretty likely mature enough to look of legal age and actually lied about her true age to make the relationship happen.

  30. sexhysteria September 10, 2015 at 3:24 am #

    Why wasn’t the girl punished for lying about her age? Older men are such heroes for protecting helpless, young damsels in distress!

  31. Donna September 10, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    “Beware of absolutes.
    A contract to appear in a pornographic film is void if one party is a minor.”

    No, my statement was correct.

    A contract to appear in a pornographic film is unenforceable by performance regardless of age. There may be some damages that can be obtained from the “actor” for failing to perform, but that is it. Damages could also potentially be obtained against a minor who lied about his/her age to the reliance of the film maker. (A pornographic film maker who knew the actor was underage would most likely not be stupid enough to bring a suit to enforce any portion of the contract).

    On the other side of the coin, the contract is void toward the actor. An actor would have no cause of action against a pornographic film maker to enforce the contract if the actor is underage. However, the contract is void due to illegality, not minority of a party. All contracts for illegal activity are void. It just so happens that age is what makes the contract illegal in this case.

  32. Donna September 10, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    “Why wasn’t the girl punished for lying about her age?”

    By punished, I assume that you mean criminally. What law did she violate?

  33. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    “However, the contract is void due to illegality, not minority of a party.”

    It’s void for illegality whichever party is underage, but it’s only illegal because of the minority of the party. Thus, the contract is void because of the minority of the party.; QED.

  34. Donna September 10, 2015 at 8:43 am #

    “It appears that some commenters here want to abolish all age-of-consent laws, and all statutory rape laws.”

    That is true for me. I do not approve of stat rape laws and believe that they should be abolished. This is not because I support young teens having sex, but because I believe that each individual gets to decide when they are ready for sex and with whom. Age of onset of sexual interest and choice in partners is simply not something that can be dictated by outside forces.

    However, I believe that the age of the parties should be something that is considered by a jury when determining whether the consent was valid in a rape trial. Yes, it is more difficult to get convictions this way, but our legal system is not based on the notion that we need to throw as many people in jail as we can as easily as possible. That may be, in fact, what is happening today in our criminal justice system, but is certainly not the ideal presented by the founders of it.

    “If the young girl is sweet-talked into doing something foolish, then it is her own fault.”

    Sweet-talking anyone into anything is not a crime. Forcing someone into it is a crime. Coercing someone into it is a crime. Threatening someone into it is a crime. But sweet-talking someone into it is not a crime. I have adults who sweet-talk kids into committing crimes all the time. Kids still go to prison because society has determined that they should know better and be able to withstand the sweet-talking of adults. Why is sex different? Why is sex the ONE thing you believe minors should hold no responsibility for their own stupid choices?

    This is also an extremely quaint and unrealistic view of the world. The vast majority of young teens who are engaging in sex are not being sweet talked into anything. They are eagerly and aggressively seeking out sex. That is clearly what happened here. This girl was on a hook-up website under a false age, continued to lie about her age throughout the encounter, only telling the truth well after the fact when she was caught. That is not a poor innocent little lamb being led to the slaughter. If the lamb is what you have in a situation, I think a good case could be made for actual rape without needing to default to stat rape.

  35. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 8:52 am #

    “A contract to appear in a pornographic film is unenforceable by performance regardless of age. There may be some damages that can be obtained from the “actor” for failing to perform, but that is it.”

    This is true, but totally irrelevant. All personal services contracts are “unenforceable by performance”, whether it’s for appearing in a film or cleaning the gutters. However, “unenforceable by performance” and “void” are not even vaguely the same thing.
    Note that California has a procedure by which contracts for minors to appear in film projects are judicially reviewed and are thenceforth enforceable contracts.

  36. Donna September 10, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    “It’s void for illegality whichever party is underage, but it’s only illegal because of the minority of the party. Thus, the contract is void because of the minority of the party.”

    No, it is void for illegality. Just like a contract for the sale of cocaine is void. In this specific example, the reason for the illegality is the fact that it is illegal to produce pornography with an actor under the age of 18. In fact, if the actor signed the contract while a minor, but was to turn 18 before his “performance,” the contract is not void at all because it is no longer a contract for illegal activity. Like all contracts with minors, it is potentially voidable, but not per se void.

  37. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    “No, it is void for illegality.”
    I see. It’s not void for illegality, like I said, but rather, it’s void for illegality? Thanks for clearing that up.

    “Just like a contract for the sale of cocaine is void.”
    As an aside, how can people be arrested for sale of cocaine, charged for sale of cocaine, convicted for sale of cocaine, and sentenced for sale of cocaine, if the sale itself is legally void?

  38. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    “In fact, if the actor signed the contract while a minor, but was to turn 18 before his “performance,” the contract is not void at all ”

    Yes, if you change the hypothetical, you get a different result.

  39. Donna September 10, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    “All personal services contracts are “unenforceable by performance”, whether it’s for appearing in a film or cleaning the gutters.”

    That is correct.

    “However, “unenforceable by performance” and “void” are not even vaguely the same thing.”

    That is correct too. However, as per your usual course, you take statements out of context to try to prove a point on which you are completely wrong. The point was that as from the studio to the actor (the studio being the one seeking to enforce the contract) the contract is potentially as enforceable as it would be against any other actor. In neither the case of an adult nor a minor actor could the studio demand actual performance. They could, however, potentially demand damages against both an adult who refused to perform and a minor who refused to perform (only if the minor lied about his age to the reliance of the studio). They could also seek damages against the minor if the minor did perform and subsequently the film had to be destroyed due to the discovery that the actor was a minor. I think they would be highly unlikely to get an award of damages against the minor. I think they would be highly unlikely to even seek them due to the potential risk of criminal liability. But that is irrelevant.

  40. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 9:26 am #

    Me: “This is true, but totally irrelevant”.
    You: “But that is irrelevant.”

    You have this habit of saying the same thing I did, and reaching the conclusion that I’m wrong. It’s funny.

    Twice, now, in less than half-an-hour. Do you even realize you’re doing it?

  41. Donna September 10, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    “A contract to appear in a pornographic film is void if one party is a minor.”

    Where did I change the hypothetical? You didn’t specify that the party was to be a minor when he appeared in the film; just that he was a minor when he entered into the contract. Two very different things.

    That said, the difference is between age being used to determine the capacity to contract and age being used to determine the legality of the actions called for under a contract. Under the law, a 20 year old has the full capacity to contract and any legal contracts involving him are fully enforceable. However, he cannot contract for the sale of alcohol. Not because he lacks the capacity to contract, but because his age makes the actions required under the contract illegal. We would not say that this alcohol contract is void due to age. It is void due to illegality; his age is just the reason that the contract is illegal.

    “how can people be arrested for sale of cocaine, charged for sale of cocaine, convicted for sale of cocaine, and sentenced for sale of cocaine, if the sale itself is legally void?”

    A contract being void simply means that it is unenforceable in the courts. You can’t demand performance under the contract (although we get the occasional crack head who tries), but you can be convicted for participating.

  42. Donna September 10, 2015 at 9:35 am #

    “You have this habit of saying the same thing I did, and reaching the conclusion that I’m wrong. It’s funny”

    You have a habit of insisting that I am agreeing with you when I am not.

  43. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 9:40 am #

    Try again on the syllogism:

    Premise: Contracts for an illegal purpose are void.
    Premise: A contract to perform in a pornographic film, while a minor, is illegal.
    Conclusion: A contract to perform in a pornographic film, while a minor, is void.

    You made a sweeping, absolute statement. Like nearly, but not quite, all such statements, it has exceptions. I pointed one out for you. Rather than concede that your sweeping absolute statement should have been phrased as a sweeping, generally-but-not-absolutely-true statement, you attacked the messenger. You tried to bring in something that you now concede was irrelevant. Whatever. No longer interested.

    Have a nice day.

  44. Donna September 10, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    “Me: “This is true, but totally irrelevant”.
    You: “But that is irrelevant.

    You have this habit of saying the same thing I did, and reaching the conclusion that I’m wrong. It’s funny.”

    Again with taking things out of context and insisting that you are right. The fact that courts are unlikely to give damages when the actor is a minor is irrelevant to the right of the studio to seek them. The first several sentences of the paragraph that you cut that statement from which explains the fact that the studio has a legal right to seek them just as they would against anyone else is relevant.

  45. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    “You have a habit of insisting that I am agreeing with you when I am not.”

    If that makes you feel better, OK. It’s TOTALLY different that a contract is void for illegality, or it’s void for illegality.

    It’s TOTALLY different if something is irrelevant, or irrelevant.

  46. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    “The fact that courts are unlikely to give damages when the actor is a minor is irrelevant to the right of the studio to seek them. ”

    Which was my point. I’m the one who first called this “irrelevant”, remember?

  47. Donna September 10, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    “Premise: Contracts for an illegal purpose are void.
    Premise: A contract to perform in a pornographic film, while a minor, is illegal.
    Conclusion: A contract to perform in a pornographic film, while a minor, is void.”

    Neither of those statements were your original premise at all. Now that I have proved your original premise incorrect, you have changed your premise. Even now, your conclusion is not completely correct as the pornography studio does have some ability to enforce a contract with a minor.

  48. Donna September 10, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    “Which was my point. I’m the one who first called this “irrelevant”, remember?”

    That was not your point originally. You stated that the fact that performance could not be mandated for either an adult or minor is irrelevant. That is actually relevant.

  49. Donna September 10, 2015 at 9:50 am #

    But I have to go be a real lawyer now. You keep trying though.

  50. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    “Neither of those statements were your original premise at all.”

    Um, we’re discussing my CONCLUSION. Oops.

    “Now that I have proved your original premise incorrect”
    No, you didn’t. Keep squirming.

    “you have changed your premise.”
    In the sense that my premises and conclusion are unchanged, sure.

    “Even now, your conclusion is not completely correct as the pornography studio does have some ability to enforce a contract with a minor.”
    No, they have no ability to enforce a void contract. It’s void for illegality, remember?

    This is like that time you said I was wrong for saying that judges can hear civil cases, all over again.

  51. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    ““Which was my point. I’m the one who first called this “irrelevant”, remember?”
    That was not your point originally.”

    Hmm. What did I say when this diversion was introduced?
    Oh, yeah: I said it was true, but irrelevant.
    http://www.freerangekids.com/zach-anderson-19-on-sex-offender-list-for-25-years-for-consensual-teen-sex-to-get-new-trial/#comment-386094

    “But I have to go be a real lawyer now. You keep trying though.”
    If you can’t beat the the message, try to beat the messenger, eh?

    You made a sweeping, absolute statement. Like nearly, but not quite, all such statements, it has exceptions. I pointed one out for you. Rather than concede that your sweeping absolute statement should have been phrased as a sweeping, generally-but-not-absolutely-true statement, you attacked the messenger AGAIN. You tried to bring in something that you now concede was irrelevant. You were wrong, it’s not important, but there it is.

  52. Papilio September 10, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    Can’t we have, like, a separate little James corner, where discussions with him can be moved to so the actual blog posts are freed up for those of us who don’t wish to engage?

  53. Rook September 10, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    I know two who actually are child rapists and child molesters that were in their 30s and harassing kids that were under 10, and they walk around freely because their siblings and cousins refused to let any of the other relatives turn them in. Sick, sick world. I often get in trouble for not letting them near me or my kid. I remember being a teen too. Of course, I was a pretty late bloomer had no interest in getting involved like that with anybody, but I remember having to tell off old men that were on the sex offender registry more often than I’d like. Instead of throwing the book at some kid because he kissed a little liar (I don’t consider someone an adult until they’re in their 20s), how about they enforce the laws on the creepy adults who clearly need dealt with?

  54. Buffy September 10, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    Papilio, best suggestion ever.

  55. Jeff September 10, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    I agree with those here saying that our legal approach to children in this country is so jumbled. Instead of trying to make arbitrary cut-offs for being able to consent to this or that, how about we simply make it a point to aid them in developing the rational capabilities necessary to confidently and competently make decisions for themselves from the earliest age (aka birth)? We have laws that treat our children as incompetent; but even the one’s who are incompetent are only that way because they were raised to be incompetent. Perhaps raising competent children will give us adults the confidence to change some of the asinine laws we have concerning children or at least give our children confidence to do so when they become adults.

  56. George September 10, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    Jeff: “how about we simply make it a point to aid them in developing the rational capabilities necessary to confidently and competently make decisions for themselves from the earliest age (aka birth)?”

    Are you kidding? I have met 30yo women who do not make competent decision about whom to sleep with. They avoid the guys who would be suitable husbands, and they put out for the jerks.

    Getting college girls to make competent decisions would be a worthwhile goal. For younger girls, forget it.

  57. Papilio September 10, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    @George: So, what solution do you suggest?

  58. George September 10, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    @Papillo: A partial solution is to have a legally-defined age of consent. No younger girl is to be molested under any circumstances. Anyone who does can be severely punished, regardless of whatever the girl might have said.

    Nearly everyone has come to this conclusion. For more, see Age of consent. It says that the Delawave age of consent was 7 in 1895! Is that what you want? Or maybe like Libya, which recently abolished its age of consent.

  59. Doug September 10, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    George, that solution creates the exact problem that this post is about.

    The girl LIED. Should all people under the age of consent have their ages tattooed on their foreheads?

  60. George September 10, 2015 at 4:23 pm #

    Doug, girls’ ages are already written on their faces. 14-year-old girls look like 14yo girls. Some look 13 or 15, or maybe 16. If the man is unsure, then it is his responsibility to make a determination. Not hers.

    There used to be a magazine called “Hustler Barely Legal”. It had 18yo girls who looked 16 or 17. If any of those girls had turned out to be under 18, the magazine would have been shut down. It would have been no defense to argue that the girl lied about her age.

    Some laws have criminal or civil liability even if you were tricked. The statutory rape and child porn laws are examples.

  61. lollipoplover September 10, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

    @George-

    “Getting college girls to make competent decisions would be a worthwhile goal. For younger girls, forget it.”

    I hope you don’t have daughters to read how you view them as idiots.
    What about college boys? Are they given a free pass because they possess a penis (or second brain)?
    With sexist attitudes like yours, why even send stupid girls to college at all?
    Keep them in the kitchen making you sandwiches.

  62. Gina September 10, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

    GEORGE:
    If the man is unsure, then it is his responsibility to make a determination. Not hers.”

    As the parent five kids (3 boys, 2 girls) who are all over the age of consent anywhere , I am SEETHING at this remark.
    It is the BOY’s responsibility to know if the girl is lying? Are you freakin’ kidding me?

    If some young girl tricks my 18 year old son into thinking she is also 18, HE is responsible for her lie? I don’t think so.
    Likewise, if a young man of 16 decides to tell my 24 year old daughter (who looks about 17) that he is of legal age to have sex with her….she is not responsible for HIS lie either.

    I agree with the posters here who say there should be no specific age of consent. But until the laws are changed, any young girl or boy who lies to an older person about their age should be held completely responsible for the sexual encounter being illegal.

  63. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    “Are you kidding? I have met 30yo women who do not make competent decision about whom to sleep with. They avoid the guys who would be suitable husbands, and they put out for the jerks.”

    By any chance, are you one of the guys who would be a suitable husband?

  64. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    “It is the BOY’s responsibility to know if the girl is lying? Are you freakin’ kidding me?”

    No. It is an ADULT’S responsibility to know if their would-be sexual partner(s) is/are underage.
    Regardless of gender identification of either party.

  65. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

    “There used to be a magazine called “Hustler Barely Legal”. It had 18yo girls who looked 16 or 17. If any of those girls had turned out to be under 18, the magazine would have been shut down. It would have been no defense to argue that the girl lied about her age.”

    Review 18 U.S. Code § 2252.& 2252A (Hint: What does “knowingly” mean?)

  66. Diana Green September 10, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

    The link to Virginia Black’s in-depth background story is a new. “Good news” and masterful journalism. This longer version of the Zachary Anderson Story should be required reading for everyone who has any interest in the sex offender registry issue. Especially those who might think it has any value in the real world.

    It should also be required reading for anyone who has the wrong-headed notion that the American system of justice takes all information, evidence, fact and extenuating circumstances into account before arriving at a decision (i.e., sentence) that could destroy a person’s life–for no purpose other than to make political of career points for the judge or prosecuting attorney, with no proven benefit to the public. And a t great expense to the tax-payers.

    New studies are turning up all the time about the uselessness of “the registry” in preventing crime. One even implies that the Supreme Court case that resulted in the continued use of the registry for residence restrictions was based on a claim by a writer in a pop culture magazine that sex offenders are incapable of rehabilitation. the Solicitor General, through some amazingly blind error, confusedly presented as a valid study.

    The past is past. Now is the time to let cooler heads prevail. We as a people can allow the truth to break through our past misconceptions. A search for truth gives us the understanding we need to “set prisoners free”. They are not our enemies. They are not even dangerous. They are people like Zach. If we were to hear their stories, we would know that. We were deceived by a faulty plea bargain process that put many, like Zach, into binds with unexpected consequences and no escape clauses. We were deluded by those who told us that every sex offender on the registry is a menace to society who is incapable of reform. We were told that they are all child molesters and abductors, murderers, kid snatchers. When in truth they are mostly people no more threatening to our well being than Zach.

    What is good about our judicial system is that we always have another chance to get things right. We can go back, again and again, over and over, until the judicial system, the Third Branch of “We the People”, finally, indeed, get its right.

    Let’s hope the court in the Zachary Anderson case can find it’s way to holistic and healing justice.

    And that the ruling in the re-sentencing is broad enough to benefit the million other sufferers whose misery only weakens this great country.

    Think: What would Solomon do? John Marshall?

    Free Zachary Anderson. Free the unjustly punished one million.

  67. JKP September 10, 2015 at 10:37 pm #

    George – “Doug, girls’ ages are already written on their faces. 14-year-old girls look like 14yo girls. Some look 13 or 15, or maybe 16.”

    What world do you live in?

    When I was 15, I was performing at college venues and ended up talking with half a dozen cops working security. They offered to buy me a drink at the bar after one of my shows. If half a dozen cops thought that 15-year-old me was over 21 and could drink, how could you expect any guy to know just by looking at me whether I was over 18? You can’t tell just by looking at someone that they are under the age of consent.

    How are guys supposed to make sure that she is in fact 18 and not lying to him? Half my friends in high school had fake IDs to get into the bars. If she has a fake ID to corroborate her lie, then what you do expect the guy to do? (And guys have been arrested for statutory rape when the girl was in the bar drinking alcohol and thus reasonably assumed to be over 21).

    I think statutory rape laws should only be enforced if they can prove that the guy should have known she was underage.

  68. James Pollock September 10, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

    “How are guys supposed to make sure that she is in fact 18 and not lying to him? ”

    I believe the stock answer is “you should know someone well enough to know how old they are before you decide to have sex with them”.

    Meh. When you decide to have sex with somebody, you are taking chances. That person might be someone who wants to conceive a child, and is willing to be deceptive towards achieving that goal. That person might have an STI they haven’t disclosed. That person might be the sort who gets all stalker-y with the people they’ve had sex with. That person might be married or otherwise in a (somewhat) committed relationship they haven’t disclosed. Yes, that person might not be as legally able to give consent as you’d prefer (or assume). And these are just some of the risks related to people being deceptive.

    Part of being mature enough to have sex is being mature enough to take these things into consideration beforehand.

  69. Gina September 11, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    Question to the board: Are James and George just trolling?

  70. James Pollock September 11, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

    “Question to the board: Are James and George just trolling?”

    At least 50% “no”.

  71. George September 11, 2015 at 10:55 pm #

    I just gave opinions in favor of age-of-consent laws, and I think about 95% of the population agrees with that. You can any politicians wanting to abolish such laws. So no, I am not trolling.

  72. bsolar September 12, 2015 at 3:13 am #

    @George: “I just gave opinions in favor of age-of-consent laws, and I think about 95% of the population agrees with that. You can any politicians wanting to abolish such laws. So no, I am not trolling.”

    You might not be trolling but you are failing at logic. Most of those who here voiced criticism at the current age-of-consent laws never suggested they should be abolished, merely that they should be improved with some flexibility. Said flexibility I think is already implemented in about 95% of the countries with age-of-consent laws and I think 95% of the population would be in favor of implementing it in the US too. And yes, I made up those 95% just like you did.

    Also, “just giving opinions” doesn’t exclude trolling. “Any sufficiently advanced troll is indistinguishable from a genuine kook.” (Morgan’s maxim)

  73. James Pollock September 12, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    “You can any politicians wanting to abolish such laws. So no, I am not trolling.”

    This is a poor analysis. Of course you don’t see any politicians in favor of abolishing such laws. Politicians are pack animals. If one or two come out in favor of common sense, the rest will crucify him (or her). You won’t see politicians in favor of removing mandatory minimum sentencing, although any of them with experience in criminal justice knows full well what the flaws are in mandatory minimum sentencing, it doesn’t pay to be on the criminal’s side (if you’re a politician*).

    Once upon a time, the same was true for black people. If a politician showed an interest in treating them fairly and equally, this was portrayed by the opposition as supporting black people over white people. Since there were more white people than black people, the one with the support of white people tended to win the election, and the person with the support of black people tended to lose the election. As a result, politicians tended to avoid questions like “say, do you think we should treat black people equally and fairly”? The near-universal support (by politicians) of Jim Crow laws didn’t mean that they were right. It meant that there were political forces at work that were more powerful than the notion that people should be treated fairly and equally.

    *Some exclusions apply.

  74. Papilio September 12, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

    @George: “A partial solution is to have a legally-defined age of consent. No younger girl is to be molested under any circumstances. Anyone who does can be severely punished, regardless of whatever the girl might have said.”

    What if the boy is also under the age of consent? Assuming your hypothetical law would also protect underaged boys, should they both be punished, or neither, or just the boy?

    “Nearly everyone has come to this conclusion. For more, see Age of consent. It says that the Delawave age of consent was 7 in 1895! Is that what you want?”

    No, I don’t think anyone wants that. But you need to realize that that Wikipedia page simply gives the numbers and that’s that. Where I live, the official age is 16, without R&J clausules. Does that mean 16-year-olds get convicted for consensual sex with their 15-year-old girlfriends? Heck no. The law is there to get the dirty old men and other dirtbags behind bars, not to bother Romeo and Juliet. Zach? Not a dirtbag.

  75. Lindsey September 13, 2015 at 12:15 am #

    @George – when I was 13, colleagues of my father would ask me if I was excited to go to college because they mistakenly believed that I was my brothers age which was 18 years of age. Also? To quote one of the links:

    “The two first met on the Facebook-hosted Hot or Not website, in the over-18 section. When they were communicating online and in text messages, she told him she was 17. They went to a nearby school and talked a while before having sex. Zach recalls dropping her back at home later, where he gave her a hug before he drove back to his parents’ Elkhart home.”

    and additionally:

    “I feel that nothing should happen to Zach,” the girl said, according to transcripts of the hearing.
    Her mother elaborated, telling the judge the girl’s emotional state over her epilepsy “plays a role in what she has done, and she feels guilty about what happened and she says, ‘Why can’t I be in trouble for what happened?’ … I hope you’ll really consider the fact of just dropping the case.”

    The fact is, sex happened. She lied about her age – you think he should go to jail because he lied? I’m sorry but the only victim in this situation is this young man. You say he should do the time and then live a normal life – in what scenario can he ever live a normal life if branded as a sexual predator?

    She should be tried for Sexual Assault. He had sex with her because she tricked him due to lying about her age, aka coercion.

  76. James Alderman September 13, 2015 at 12:53 am #

    Doesn’t the sex offender registry contain information which already exists in the criminal records system? Seems to me the sex offender registry could merely be an app which pings the criminal records system and searches by zip code. We don’t need a sex offender registry.

  77. James Pollock September 13, 2015 at 3:54 am #

    “She should be tried for Sexual Assault. He had sex with her because she tricked him due to lying about her age, aka coercion.”

    I don’t think coercion means what you think it means.

  78. JKP September 13, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    “She should be tried for Sexual Assault. He had sex with her because she tricked him due to lying about her age, aka coercion.”

    That’s an interesting idea. Considering that some states are trying to pass laws creating “rape by fraud” defined as “an act of sexual penetration to which a person has given consent because the actor has misrepresented the purpose of the act or has represented he is someone he is not.” “Fraud invalidates any semblance of consent just as forcible sexual contact does. This legislation is designed to provide our state’s judiciary with another tool to assess situations where this occurs and potentially provide a legal remedy to those circumstances.”
    http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/11/rape_by_fraud_nj_lawmaker_introduces_bill_to_make_it_a_crime.html

    The “rape by fraud” is meant to save the poor woman who is sweet-talked into sleeping with a con artist who has convinced her he is rich or famous or in some other way deceptively seduced her into bed when she otherwise would have never slept with him if she’d known the truth. Prosecutors initially tried to pursue sexual assault by coercion, which didn’t work, so now are trying to create a new crime “rape by fraud.”

    If such laws did pass, they could also prosecute liars such as this girl who lied about her age, because he never would have slept with her if he had known she was underage, thus she raped him by fraud.

    Although, I would rather that the legal system didn’t prosecute cases like this at all. Statutory rape should include the defendant knowing that she was underage, and if the “victim” lies about her age that should nullify statutory rape.

  79. G4Change September 15, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

    As usual, another awesome op-ed, Lenore Skenazy.
    This judge should be removed from the bench and disbarred along with the prosecutor in this case. They are the true predators!

  80. Jenny Islander September 17, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

    In this case I think abetting a felony would be the appropriate charge against the girl, seeing as how there would have been no crime if she hadn’t lied.