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Can Sex Offenders Legally Live Next Door To Schools?

OLIVEHURST (CBS13) - An Olivehurst Grandmother is furious after learning that a sex offender is living just feet away from her neighborhood elementary school. 

"I'm concerned about people not being aware of the sex offenders in the area," said Robyn Gorham. 

Gorham says she was stunned to find out how many sex offenders lived just down the street from Cedar Lane Elementary, where her grandson is set to attend. 

"There are parents here and I don't think they're aware of what's right in our neighborhood," said Gorham. 

A quick search on the Megan's Law website shows there are 11 sex offenders living within 3/4 of a mile from the school. Gorham is particularly concerned about one offender convicted of lewd acts with a child 14 or 15 years old, whose home is registered just feet away from the school's fence. 

READ: 3 Now Arrested In Connection To Deadly Beating Of Man Mistaken As Sex Offender

"The fence is in between the driveway and where the kids are playing, so anybody can say 'hi' and put their hand through the fence," she said. 

Gorham adds, "I always thought it was a law that they couldn't register their address so close to the school?"

So is there a blanket law that keeps all sex offenders at a certain distance away from a school? 

"There is no general, applicable law -- Jessica's Law or Megan's Law -- in California that applies to every sex offender in California the same way," said Sacramento criminal attorney Mark Reichel. 

Reichel says because there are varying degrees of sex offenders, each offender's restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis, and solely by their parole or probation officer. 

"A sex offender can't live by a school if the parole officer determines they cannot. Those officers can impose all kinds of restrictions, whether they can have contact with children, stay away from children, and how far away," said Reichel. 

ALSO: Tuolumne County Sex Offender Arrested For Living With Toddler

But in this case in question, the offender was convicted in 2010 and is no longer under parole. Reichel says the offender is not breaking any laws. 

"If they're  no longer on probation or parole, they're just a 290 registrant, there's really no way a city can prevent them from residing in an area as long as they're abiding by the law," he said. 

Reichel says while schools have to protect children;, they have no control of where sex offenders live. He suggests parents take advantage of online resources and use the Megan's Law website to be educated on who lives around them. 


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