Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

Ah it’s been a few years since we’ve heard about this one; teen has girlfriend a year or 2 younger than him, he’s 18 she’s 16, they have sex, send nude pics to each other, one gets mad sends pic to entire friends list, he ends up on sex offender registry; the case of one Phillip Alpert roughly 7 years ago. Or he’s 19 she’s 17, they have sex, get caught by parents, teen suddenly finds himself on sex offender registry. Oh sure we’ve seen them charged with rape, part of the crux of the Steubenville case, had charges tacked on to an existing  dubious sex case for sexting, teens coming up against child pornography charges for same, but it’s been awhile since a national case was brought to our attention where a young man was put behind bars, forced onto the sex offender registry for having sex with a willing girl where there was no alcohol, no predictably ambiguous party scene, no videos of a bunch of intoxicated persons beyond coherent thought. Complicating the latest story is that yes the girl was 14, but lied about her age to not only register a profile on the dating app hot or not, but lied to him and told him she was 17 to meet and have sex with him; thus sealing Zach Anderson’s fate despite both the mother and the “victim,” language they both object to, speaking on his behalf in court. Worse the judge seemed bound and determined to use Mr. Anderson as some kind of example almost ranting during sentencing about the immorality of “hook up” culture before throwing him in jail for 90 days, giving him an exhaustive 5 year probation including numerous restrictions, totaling 61, and mandating he spend the next 25 years on the sex offender registry housing its own restrictions. Contrasted against judges epitomizing the opposite extreme stating in court the women could not have been raped because the assailant couldn’t have removed her clothing, namely skinny jeans, without her help, cooperation, another who sentenced a 25 year old convicted of raping his female neighbor multiple times beginning when he was 18 and she was 13 to a diversionary program, not jail time, apparently ignoring a history of sex assault, time in a juvenile facility for said assault before he was 15, the teacher convicted of having sex with a student later committing suicide who had to be resentenced after being convicted then sentenced to mere 31 days behind bars. Returning to Zach Anderson, though recently released from jail his budding hope for a career in computer science is over as he is not allowed to use either computer or smart phone, cannot live in his parents’ home because it is 800 feet from public boat ramp, minimum for Zach now is 1,000, has an 8:00 pm curfew, which could easily interfere with any job he might be able to get, he can’t hang out with friends in a public park, go to the local skate park. His parents, who wholeheartedly believe their son doesn’t belong on the registry advocating the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, dipped into savings for legal fees and a fixer upper home for Zach to live in, since where he grew up is no longer an option. Juxtapose that alongside what we now know about Bill Cosby, stories of Donald Trump’s treatment of women, behavior toward his wives, truly inappropriate comments related to his own daughter; actual, bona fide real sexual predators, sexual jerks genuinely guilty of preying on women and girls, treating them like less than human beings polar opposite to a young man who is legally an adult, used an adult site for hook up, for meeting people interested in having sex, picked her up at her house, went to a store to buy condoms, showing an intent to be safe, they went somewhere to have sex, he hugged her and drove her home. Jared Fogle known as Subway Jared, famous for losing 200 pounds eating their food now subject to an FBI raid on his home, currently pleading guilty to a host of charges soliciting minors to have sex saying “the younger the girl the better,” possessing nude, partially clothed pictures of minors engaged in sex acts, one a young as 6. Certainly Zach Anderson and the, his mother didn’t exaggerate, 100’s of other kids, barely legal young people like him don’t deserve to be classified with such inarguable scum, on a list with persons committing child rape, literally destroying little bodies and minds; they aren’t remotely the same. So why are we still allowing them to be charged that way?

This is the other side of rape culture and its undeniable detrimental effect on teens, young women and women in general; for every Steubenville there is a Duke lacrosse case, for every Bill Cosby there is someone gold digging, someone regretful of their sexual encounter. The undercurrent to Todd Akin’s legitimate rape comment is how many women do lie about rape based on various flimsy, shallow, petty even potentially delusional reasons, and  for every true case of minor exploitation where the guy was much older, knew exactly what he was doing in coercing his way into her pants, plying her with alcohol, dropping a drug into her drink or making her think he was just as “in love” as she was, there is an irate parent screaming rape, yowling their daughter has been taken advantage of to save her reputation, because they refuse to acknowledge  her culpability in the situation, they believe the boy more at fault either for being older or stemming from prejudice best explained by Margret in the 1990’s Dennis the Menace   remake, discussing a benign topic yes, but very applicable to the subject, “because boys are like that and girls aren’t.” Women, potentially troubled, definitely immature teens and young women, who lie about their age, misrepresent themselves in some way, shape or form to stay in, initiate a relationship with another person; with teens it almost always means to be in a relationship, have sex with decidedly older guys. This too being why schools are making varying types of birth control available to younger and younger girls to prevent the seemingly inevitable, education, life derailing pregnancies ultimately occurring among 11-14-year-old’s sexually active with 15, 16 year olds , and for every teen boy who did harm a younger girl in a sexually malicious manner, shows the propensity to be a pedophile, serial rapist, is someone society should be worried about or is just destined to break women’s hearts simply by being a jerk, there is a Zach Anderson, a Phillip Alpert. Miscarriages of justice detailed in the introduction what happens when prosecutors, arguably old ones, hear the words underage teenager and nude pictures, have the teen trend of sexting explained to them, the idea behind a ‘hook up,’ dating website, some of them the internet period, unsurprisingly by a fellow adult similar aged to themselves; immediately thinking the male a sleaze, the female a damsel in distress, therefore child pornography laws need to be applied. But even then, why was Mr. Anderson’s case ever filed; the moment she, the girl who willingly took part in everything that happened, had a profile on a site meant for people seeking sex, admitted to lying about her age, purporting herself to be 17, it should have been case closed, as police originally were called that night because the 14 year old had gone out, snuck out late and her mother couldn’t find her. Moving right along on the train of things that just don’t make even legal sense, forget the ranting, moralizing judge for a minute, when it reached the prosecutor’s office he, she, they should have looked at it, read the circumstances surrounding said case, seen the litany of charges including statutory rape, statements from the “victim,” her mother expressing support for the young man, not wishing him to be charged, face jail and declined to prosecute; it’s called prosecutorial discretion. Because, as the CBS News legal analyst pointed out, you cannot build your ruling on your personal feelings about what the culture should be over what it is, especially when the defendant has the support of the victim, the victim’s family. Ironic police, persecutor, every facet of law enforcement, the justice system eagerly listens to, appreciates the cooperation of parents crying, shouting emphatically demanding prosecution of the “bad boy” who hurt, humiliated their daughter, got her into a bad situation, identically shouting, demanding prosecution of the “bad girl” who influenced their son to do something stupidly illegal, but never listen when they passionately beg for the opposite. Not that parental desire should determine, wholly determine legal charges but it does often influence them, determine the vigor with which the case is pursued, the severity of charges filed; it should then go both ways, also when both parents want leniency, mercy. Adding to the asinine nature of Anderson’s judge’s ruling, despite their lack of automatic defense for sex cases where the girl lied out her age, they do have a leniency law as to who absolutely has to be placed on the sex offender registry allowing a first time offender under 21 to be given diversion thus avoiding life on the sex offender registry; that law too should have been applied here. Again taking into account not only the girl’s willing participation, aid in creating the situation, but the hardly deniable fact she doesn’t feel violated, used or abused, it’s not a case where she’s so psychologically damaged her not feeling those things is a greater sign of her trauma; she shows no ill after effects of the actual sex act, isn’t suicidal, isn’t demonstrating acute signs of stress, the markers you see in rape victims, whatever maladjustment was there before hasn’t worsened, she doesn’t seem to have gone out and done this again in order to try and relieve the trauma. It isn’t remotely like the elite prep school case allegations there was a secret tradition of trying to get into decidedly younger girls’ pants, using their status as upperclassmen to flatter young girls into going to bed with them. Anything negative she feels about what’s happening clearly centers around guilt she feels for having done this to him, as well she should.  However all is not lost, yet; after relentless parental advocation, a petition housing 100,000 signatures Zach Anderson was set to go before a new judge for review and possible resentencing of his case down to something more reasonable, commiserate with the crime. Unfortunately the wheels of justice move slowly; that judge saying he needed additional time to consider his case.

Here is the end result of older adults, usually the puritanical, religious conservative values set who refuse to wrap their minds around one concept teens have sex, teens have sex with ear other, actions neither deviant nor abnormal provided both parties are equally willing participants. So paranoid about what kids learn in sex ed. they were pushing abstinence only until that didn’t work, resorting to desperation scaling back biology, anatomy and physiology taught in high school; subscribing to the old adage, myth, if you talk to kids about sex all they will want is to have sex, instead of understanding the above and teaching them how to have sex safely, protect themselves whenever they do. You either get judges like the one who decided to give a pedophile teacher convicted of having sex with a student 31 days in jail, fitting the pattern for bizarre rulings, old, gray/white headed, believing in the antiquated social rule girls/women should dress modestly to keep men from impure thoughts, acting on their impure impulses, calling her “older than her chronological age,” implying if she didn’t want sex she shouldn’t have flirted with him, or judges receiving global headlines who don’t think a rape, sexual assault transpired because of tight jeans, a rehash of the it’s not rape because you wore skimpy outfit, the fact it happened at a bar, she went back to his place, she let him in meme rape crisis and rape treatment/prevention advocates have been trying to dispel for decades. More comprising the moralizing crowd ready to throw the book at any teen brought before them for anything resembling a crime sexual in nature; Dennis Wiley deciding Anderson’s case ranting in part, “you went online, to use a fisherman’s expression trolling for women, to meet and have sex with. That seems to be part of our culture now. Meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior.” Except A- everyone using the site knew what it was for including the girl, knew there would be no longer term relationship, dating unless individual pairs agreed to it later on, leaving people to think he must have confused hot or not with e-harmony or; B- interesting, but hardly a shock paralleling related stories, related rulings, his most provocative comment on this case is about how and how much teens have “random sex,” not about the girl’s age, though we’re sure full text would reveal that too. Note the Michigan, state where this took place, 20 miles from Anderson’s home in Indiana, senator responsible for drafting that state’s sex crimes, pornography laws interviewed by Nightline is also white headed, older, thinking the solution is for of age teens to be more careful, “I would hope that somebody who was 19 years old would say well do you have a driver’s license or something because you don’t appear to be of the appropriate age.” Never mind 19 is what, a sophomore in college, the cultural cliché being kids go away to school majoring in beer and we expect them to have the wherewithal to ask for a driver’s license as proof of age before engaging in sex with persons they met on a hook up site in the adult section matching the status society assigns to his age, get real; talk about a mood killer. To say nothing of ok you advise young men to do so, they follow your directive; what will young girls determined to go out with, have a sexual encounter with an older guy do, get a fake ID saying they are 18 the same way high school kids get fake ID’s alleging they are 21 to go to a bar, a club. Thank you Rick Jones for the useless life hack; the identical guy who opened his remarks creepily stating young men in high school are told 15 is jail bait, calling that a slang term-ewww.  Mindsets absolutely hypocritical tallying how many older men passing 30, 40, approaching 50 and beyond “in a relationship,” having sex with a hot 20 year old, someone who says they’re 18, shouting they said they were 18 and that is their defense, their whole defense, usually let go by police, if it is ever discovered because the girl is in reality a runaway, has neglectful parents or parents who work long hours to make ends meet. Has Mr. Jones actually carded teens on the street lately to match their chronological age to their looks, probably not; one thing frightening parents today is how developed, how old younger and younger girls appear combined with their clothing styles, clothing styles available for their age, how early they want to, try to wear makeup, absolutely crave looking far older than they are. Plus unlike the teacher convicted of having sex with a then 14 year old who committed suicide, eventually sentenced to 10 years behind bars, who was 30 years old, a full 11 years older than Zach, meaning he should be wiser, possess increased maturity, who knew exactly how old the students he was teaching were within a year, who knew exactly how wrong what he was doing  was considering his age, was capable of understanding completely the power imbalance present as he was a person of authority, a mentor, Anderson had no reason to distrust, dispute what she told him. Yes it is a cautionary tale signaling you should get to know someone well before being intimate with them, yet how many grown men and women do so? How many others do attempt to get to know a person, go as far as marrying them before they learn he is abusive, has a whole other wife and family, has a criminal record, was suspected in a violent crime?

Definitely worth asking also, where are the consequences for these young women, these teen girls who purposefully pursue older guys, lie about their ages, are just as manipulative as we blame men, young men for being; where was the, at the very least, accompanying courtroom lecture for this 14 year old girl virtually ruining a young man’s life with her dishonesty, her mother for not knowing, being aware she had a profile on an adult portion of a hook up to have sex website- nowhere. Where is the courage of the judge to look over at the prosecutor and say I can’t believe you even brought this to me; falling back on the old adage about pornography, explaining away an inability to define it, “I’ll know it when I see it, clearly classifying this, these cases as something else yet remaining without legal definition?  Where is the remit to juvenile services charging her with culpability in the “crime” committed, misrepresenting herself online, if for nothing else remitting her to said services to one, investigate her home life for possible negligence, neglect, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two, insist parents, the state, someone get her some counseling to uncover any abuse, teach her why what she did was bad, risky, potentially unhealthy, determine what she’s missing emotionally, at home causing her to do this? Girls are rarely ever charged in these cases despite often creating the nude pics, “pornography” sans prompting from anyone, least of all an older guy; never answered his how it can be called child porn when the picture is of the teen themselves and they sent it to the other person. Women, right down to women sex offenders, teachers, mentors found guilty of sexual contact with their male students receive less time in jail, are viewed less harshly by society, easily guessed rarely put on the sex offender registry; the Mary Kay Letourneau trend anyone, marking an obvious double standard we quickly ignore in favor of  expecting 18 and 19 year old technical adults, still deemed kids in many eyes, people still sporting teen behind their age to show more discretion, maturity than most adults?  Meanwhile Zach Anderson who had a job, had a budding career in computer science will spend the next 20 years working a medial job, getting knocks on his door from neighbors checking to see if their kids are safe with him there, wherever he moves he will have to register as a sex offender.  Meanwhile young men like Phillip Alpert (then 18), whom I first wrote about in 2010 (, placed on the sex offender registry for sending nude pictures his girlfriend (16) had given to him without prompting or request, to her entire friends list in the middle of the night after a fight, was forced for years to attend classes for sex offenders, an offense related version of AA, alongside rapists, pedophiles learning from class topic like ‘why it’s bad to rape someone.’ Again a young man who had the support of both families, his and hers, who testified to the court they were boyfriend and girlfriend, he wasn’t just some internet troll, he wasn’t maliciously out to ruin her life; adding a component to his case, he doesn’t remember doing it, did it in the middle of the night, when he sent it, he had access to her email and hit select all, send, no conscious thought to embarrass her be sending it to specific people. How many people these law makers, prosecutors’ age have sent something inappropriate, to the wrong person by hitting reply all by mistake?  There was, unlike even teen relationships today, no abuse physical, mental, emotional or sexual; demonstrating these young men are not sex offenders, do understand legal right from wrong when it comes to sex, like Anderson who said had he known the girls real age he would not have had sex with her, he wouldn’t have even gone to her house, Alpert did not dispute being charged with something, rather said I don’t belong on the sex offender registry, the registry isn’t meant for what I did. Still instead of mandating individual counseling with a psychologist specializing in sex offenders, teen sexual habits to discuss what he did, assess any deviance, give him better ways to handle his relationships from here on out that’s where he ended up; an AA type group comprised of teens found guilty of similar offenses learning legal realities regarding the teen trend of sexting, safety for them and anyone they are in a relationship with, avoiding nude pics, determining the rightful age of the person before sex, was unlikely 5 years ago, since cases such as this were so new, but why not now, why not switch him to that type of program when it became available? To circumvent what I talked about in 2010, taking the chance of turning him into a divalent by surrounding him with deviants, exposing him to so much negativity, based on society’s perception of what he did versus what he actually did, he begins to think might as well do what I’ve been accused of, pegged as. Where is the ‘automatic defense’ for cases where the girl is proven to have lied about her age; a glaring example of why so called liberals are always pushing for federal laws on issues opposing parties think falls under states’ rights, because when states are left to themselves news exposés telling us what a sex offender registry meant to list, find and keep track of violent predators is truthfully catching is what you get, predators remaining a growing constant problem, even listed ones. Secondly why are we suddenly blaming dating websites, youth hook up culture, when there are plenty of fetish, kink, S&M sites used to solicit people for said activities which would serve to produce the same reaction in the judge regardless of the consenting, well beyond  of age, older adults involved, plenty of other sites that present a significant public danger; perhaps he should familiarize himself with the story behind the Craig’s list killer an instance where someone older did use the site to lure women to him then killed them, true predators of every stripe who use the internet to aggressively prey on their targets from children to grown women or men. Why are we continuing to blame youth, internet and hook up culture in light of women like Joyce Tilly Mitchell the prison worker who aided Richard Matt and David Sweat in their escape from a New York jail because she was enamored with the attention they have her, “got caught up in the fantasy, the idea of a different life.” A distinction must be made between immoral and illegal, “inappropriate,” to use the judge’s word, and against the law; there is a cost for not knowing, choosing to recognize the difference.

And make no mistake prosecuting young people, running them through the court system this way comes at a larger cost surpassing a system immediately set up for the “sex offender” to fail exiling them from family, friends, a support system capable of potentially preventing re-offense once out of jail, on probation, what happens to their lives, the additional set up for failure in terms of inability to get a job, attend college toward employment, harassment, constant moving to be one step ahead of it. As it stands now police looking for a sex offender, trying to connect a recent sex crime to any known sex offender’s pattern must wade through the Zach Anderson’s and Phillip Alpert’s readers probably agree don’t belong there. Further the time spent investigating, building a case against and persecuting people like Zach Anderson means less time investigating, catching and putting behind bars, at minimum, far more dangerous predators, sexual criminals than most young people charged this way, garnering a criminal record this way. Example, when Mr. Alpert’s case made headlines in 2010 he was actually charged, tried and sentenced a good year, year and a half before media got ahold of it; why is that important, because in his home state of Florida, at the same time it took police 2 days to show up searching his home, confiscating computers, cellphones it took them months to review a computer reported to police as containing child pornography owned by Jarred Harrell, the eventual convicted killer of Somer Thompson who was 7. By the time they connected him to her sexual assault, grizzly murder he was already sitting in jail on suspicion of sexually abusing a young boy; police explanation for the delay, too many sex offenders and too few officers along with not recognizing him as a person profiled to do this, despite the litany of charges he was already facing when Thompson’s case was added. Reasonable question, so why do you spend your time throwing the book at the Alpert’s and Anderson’s of the world; detectives took 2 months to appear at his work asking about the date he hooked up with on hot or not. Reasonable follow up, who did they miss, actually guilty of rape, sex assault, identical crimes against a child, a bona fide predator using the internet to lure a teen into danger, in the time they were bothering Anderson; who represents more of a danger to public welfare, children’s welfare, minor’s welfare based on the actions, behavior undertaken by the 3, Alpert and Anderson or Jarred Harrell? Who does the public most want you to catch, jail, monitor after serving time, the Anderson’s and Alpert’s or the Jarred Harrell’s during all his precursor crimes; an interesting question since the other part of the registry enacted into law by public demand is monitoring of sex offenders released back into society, level determined by severity of convicted upon charges, number of offenses. Raising the now redundant question, while police are babysitting the Alpert’s and Anderson’s, hyper vigilant they register, attend their classes, adhere to their restrictions, who aren’t authorities watching closely enough; we all remember the horrendous case of Phillip Garrido, mishandled procedures, procedures not followed allowing the captivity, repeated rape and duel pregnancies of Jaycee Dugard. Certainly we don’t want young men engaging in misdemeanor crimes stalking, peeping tom activity escalating to things more sexual and more violent, teens repeatedly sexting pictures, sharing pictures of many young girls, using them to manipulate, blackmail those in the photos, said photos perpetuating assault or other violence, none of which applies to either young man here falsely placed on the sex offender registry largely thanks to our stagnant, puritanical values surrounding sex. Point of fact one quarter of the young people on the sex offender registry assumedly 18-21, at the outskirts 25 were placed there for “crimes” mirroring either Alpert on Anderson; hints why the latter’s mother commented to Nightline “we hope they stop placing people on the sex offender registry like they were passing out traffic tickets,” a colorfully accurate description of what we seem to be doing.  Speaking of yet another relevant where, where is the, should be mandatory psychological evaluation, for all sex offenders, conducted by independent 3rd party mental health professionals with no vested interest in the outcome for either side, regardless of how minor or major the charges brought against them, looking at their propensity to reoffend, any further deviance, psychological disorders uncovered by evaluation effecting how they might behave upon release, to help in determining where on the tiered sex offender registry they belong, most severe requiring more monitoring, the lease severe requiring the lesser, post time served observation. Why aren’t psychological evaluations a key part in trying, defending, at minimum, sentencing these cases as opposed to looking at the charges, hearing the evidence, knowing Anderson plead guilty to 4th degree criminal sexual conduct on the advice of legal counsel, because he did have sex with the girl, pronouncing your moral judgment on the situation before you, ignoring one law in favor of the other that would justify you placing him on the registry, making him into something he’s not. If there was any doubt as to what Zach Anderson might be, future threat he might pose to society, all the more reason to obtain a psychological assessment to see where he stands on that pivotal issue. This should be how it’s done, not defendants subject to the whims of whatever a judge thinks he can get away with on a legal technicality; not everything involving teens and sex means someone needs to end up on the registry, hints the parent’s comment relating it to traffic tickets. The adults, not the teens, seem to be the ones ignorant of the impact of being placed on the sex offender registry, getting themselves into such a situation, placing someone there on a legal technicality, just because you don’t like the “immorality” they willingly engaged in.

The laws were meant for people like Bill Cosby, Jared Fogle far exceeding of age who knew exactly what they were doing, who used their celebrity, money, power status to coerce, lure, pay minors for sex; they were meant for the Jarred Harrell’s, Austin Smith Clem’s who had pornography on their computer titled ‘toddler insertion’ (gag) and raped his 13 year old neighbor after a history of sexual assault behavior respectively. The laws were meant to catch and jail teachers, other persons in positions of authority over students, minors, children abusing what they were given by tainting the mentoring relationship with sex, sexual contact, sexual behavior; people like Josh Duggar, though a juvenile when he did anything illegal, not given any help he went from molesting his sisters to being, by his own admission, the biggest hypocrite ever cheating on his wife using 2 accounts on the “discrete” cheating site Ashley Madison, professing interest in what many would consider abnormal, kinky sexual themes. A potentially bigger problem, like Austin Smith Clem sentenced to a diversionary program for multiple rapes of his underage neighbor, basically amounting to little more than house arrest, he continues to be able, be available to raise his children, including his daughters.  The laws were meant for internet trolls, who use it all too easily, too conveniently to access child pornography, to sit in chat rooms, deep holes on cyberspaces seedy underground trading fetishes, ideas and perversions with like-minded sickos; the laws were meat to prosecute true predators using the internet, other means to find victims. Perhaps judges, members of the court system law enforcement all should watch every available episode of Dateline: to Catch a Predator giving them some parameters as to how they should apply sex crimes laws encompassing teens, what actually constitutes child pornography and what doesn’t, allow them to see how often teens do like to appear older. Because, child pornography statutes, laws governing sex crimes against a child by an adult, the crime of statutory rape was not meant to punish, pervert-ize teens engaging in a, no arguments stupid trend, sexting, using dating apps, other tools to “hook up,” meeting up to have sex, creating more situations where teens can lie about their age to their partner getting them in legal hot water. They were never meant to moralize, by criminalizing, the increasingly common have random sex culture popular among teens, trying to criminalize sex, sex between pubescent, physically at least mature young people. Lawyers, law makers, persecutors and law enforcement all need to come to the conclusion sexting, a teen so inclined to lie about their age to have sex belongs in a different category than a molester, child rapist, consumer of child porn, a person who exposes themselves in public repeatedly, a habitual peeping tom, a stalker, someone who tries to lure people, regardless of age to them to perform sadistic sex acts then kill them. If we tried most of the drafters of current law under those laws they would not have survived their teen years without landing a criminal record and a lifetime spot on the registry; if Zach Anderson and Phillip Alpert belong on the sex offender registry then so do 99% of the teens in America and throughout the western world