October 25, 2015

Anderson might avoid Indiana registry

10-25-15 Indiana:

Young man - who had sex with Niles girl who lied about age - removed from Elkhart list

Indiana authorities seem to agree Zachery Anderson — the young Elkhart man whose sex case involving a then-14-year-old Niles girl who admitted lying about her age has drawn a national outcry — does not deserve to remain on this state's sex offender registry.

Anderson won a more lenient sentence from a second Berrien County judge last week, one that left him with two years of probation and keeps him off Michigan's sex offender registry. His original sentence last spring included five years on probation and 25 years on Michigan's registry. That, in turn, landed him on Indiana's registry for life.

After last week's re-sentencing, the question lingered as to whether Anderson would remain on Indiana's list, and early indications were that he would.

That apparently changed Friday, when defense attorney Scott Grabel said he received word from a staff attorney for Indiana's probation committee, who reviewed Grabel's legal arguments and Indiana's law on interstate compacts. She wrote in an email that she agrees with Grabel, and the Elkhart County probation staff will be notified. Anderson does not meet with local probation officials until Thursday.

Meanwhile, Zach Anderson filed a request with the Elkhart County sheriff's department Thursday, asking to be removed from that county's sex offender site. Although the family received no official response, they found his name missing there as of Friday afternoon.

"We even checked this morning to make sure it wasn't an error," Zach's father, Lester, chuckled Saturday.

Lansing attorney Grabel sat Saturday he is impressed by how quickly Indiana authorities have responded.

"I don't think they're going to put him on (the registry)," he said. "I am extremely, cautiously optimistic. I think this will be the last big hurdle."

Grabel is still angry about how Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic tried to discount a polygraph and psychological report during Monday's re-sentencing hearing before Judge Angela Pasula, and what he considered Sepic's unfair characterization of his client's actions.

What those reports showed was that Zach, who was 19 at the time, "in his heart and in his mind, he thought he was engaging in relations with a 17-year-old," Grabel said. Sepic "tried to distort that, and that was wrong."

Sepic declined further comment after the sentencing Monday.

Meanwhile, Les Anderson said his family is still interested in campaigning against sex offender registry laws nationwide, after hearing similar horror stories from all over the country. He agrees with calls to make underage teens who deceive others about their age also accountable somehow.

"It's just unbelievable, the mountain to climb on this issue," he said. "As soon as you say 'sex,' that crime is magnified beyond anything else."

But mostly, relying on their faith and their renewed closeness as a family, the Andersons seek a return to normalcy.

"We just feel relieved," Les Anderson said, "and we want to move on with life." ..Source.. by Virginia Black

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