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Idaho law allows sex offender’s house to border playground

A registered sex offender legally shares a backyard fence with a public school playground in Idaho Falls.

Idaho law states sex offenders must live at least 500 feet away from school property, but that law was enacted in 2007, so anyone who was on the list before then can stay put.

The man who shares a fence with Falls Valley Elementary is on the registry for sexual battery of a minor.

Ashley Bierma, the mother of a Falls Valley student, said she can’t believe how close a registered sex offender can live to her daughter’s playground.

“That definitely concerns me,” she said.

It worried dad Matthew, too.

“It’s asinine that they just have a chain-link fence where they can see all the kids,” he said.

The situation isn’t as unusual as you might think, said District 93 Safety Coordinator Guy Bliesner.

“I don’t have a school neighborhood that doesn’t have a sex offender in it somewhere,” he said.

Falls Valley Principal Tom Gauchay also said every school in Idaho Falls has a sex offender nearby.

Bliesner said the school is well aware of the sex offenders in school neighborhoods, but because of the exception to Idaho law, the Falls Valley case warrants an extra-watchful eye from school staff.

“This is troubling. Unfortunately, this is an exception that the state allows,” he said.

We went to the home to talk to with the man on the registry and spoke to his wife, who said they had not considered moving just because they are close to a school.

Bonneville County Sheriff Sgt. Jeff Edwards said if he had a child playing on that playground, it would bother him, but the law is the law, and this is legal.

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