Elkhart man sentenced for sex with girl who lied about her age wants to withdraw guilty plea

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By: Krystal Vivian kvivian@953mnc.com

An Elkhart man fighting the sentence he received after pleading guilty to having sex with an underage girl who lied about her age is now trying to have his plea withdrawn.

Zach Anderson, 19, pleaded guilty in March to criminal sexual conduct, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, an additional five years on probation and to 25 years on Michigan’s sex offender registry. The terms of his probation include not having contact with people younger than 17 — except siblings — and can’t use the Internet, own electronics that connect to the Internet or live in a home where there is Internet access.

Anderson was pursuing a degree in computer science at Ivy Tech Community College, but would need to change his focus of study while on probation.

He was charged with criminal sexual conduct after having consensual sex with a girl whom he believed to be 17 in December. After their encounter, Anderson learned the girl was 14, not 17. Both the girl and her mother asked Judge Dennis Wiley to either drop the case or give leniency.

Anderson pleaded guilty in hopes of qualifying for Michigan’s Holmes Youthful Training Act, which allows first-time offenders ages 17-21 to expunge criminal convictions if certain conditions are met.

Wiley denied HYTA status for Anderson.

Scott Grabel, Anderson’s lawyer, filed a motion Tuesday, June 16, in Berrien County Circuit Court seeking to withdraw Anderson’s plea.

Find out what could happen next and more about the case in the full story from The Elkhart Truth.