Last week, three youths moved into a Pocatello home set up to counsel sex offenders. At noon Tuesday, they packed their bags and returned to Utah.
Because the Family Preservation Institute did not get approval from neighbors or the city, its Pocatello contract won't be completed, Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections Director Michael Johnson told 40 angry neighbors at city hall meeting.The Family Preservation Institute's contract with the state $150 per child per day to treat young sexual offenders.
"They won't come back. Community protection comes first," Johnson said.
The kids, most or all from eastern Idaho and considered low-risk, were to be sent to Logan or Brigham City, where the Institute has counseling centers for emotional ailments, Johnson said.
The Brigham City-based institute never told city officials that sex offenders would be housed at the residence. It said the boys were mentally handicapped.
A state law says if a residence houses eight or fewer elderly or mentally or physically handicapped, it is considered a single-family dwelling and does not need city approval.
"Nobody in the community was aware from the mayor on down," said Rep. Millie Flandro, D-Pocatello.
But everyone from the mayor on up quickly heard about it after rumors began flying that sex offenders were living in the house. Residents were angry because they felt their safety was in jeopardy and they had no idea what was occurring.
"We're furious because we didn't know it was a front for sex offenders," said Ann Anderson, who sold her home last month to John Loosle Jr., chief executive officer of the Family Preservation Institute.
"We thought they were a couple moving in. They were extremely sneaky," she said.
But Anderson and the rest of the neighborhood felt better after Johnson told them he would move the kids out. "If what this guy said is going to happen, it will be great as long as it doesn't happen again," Cottage Avenue resident Bob Rice said.
Flandro and Sen. Lin Whitworth, D-Inkom, promised to work on clarifying the law so sex offenders or other criminals seeking rehabilitation cannot move into residential areas without notification to the city.
The property still is owned by Loosle, but it is unknown what it will be used for now.