ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The parents of a young Pennsylvania girl who was sexually molested by their neighbor have sued the man in a bid to force him to buy their house.
The child’s parents said they don’t want to live next to Oliver Beck and “are under duress to move.” Their lawsuit, filed in Lehigh County Court in Allentown, said his presence is “ultra-hazardous given the close proximity” of Beck to the victim and their two other daughters.
Beck, 65, pleaded guilty in September 2011 to indecent assault of a child under 13 and was sentenced to three to 23 months in prison. After his release, he moved back to his home near Emmaus, about 55 miles north of Philadelphia.
The suit contends the plaintiff’s house is now “virtually unmarketable” because their neighbor is a registered sex offender. They want Beck to buy their house for $350,000, which they say is the fair-market value plus fees and expenses related to moving to a new home.
Beck’s lawyer has asked a judge to dismiss that portion of the suit, saying the law does not entitle the plaintiffs to force Beck to buy their home.
The family, identified by their initials, bought the house in 2005. The lawsuit said Beck befriended the couple and groomed the girl with gifts and rides on a 4-wheeler, then molested her in his basement, videotaping the Feb. 2, 2011 assault. The girl, who was born in 2003, told her mother and the attack was reported to authorities.
In response to the family’s demand for compensation for their home, attorney Robert Magee cited a 1998 state appeals court ruling that said a plaintiff who lived next to a toxic-waste site couldn’t collect damages from an inability to sell the home.
Legal precedent has established that “this is just a type of injury that allows for no recourse, an injury without a remedy,” Magee wrote in court papers filed last week.
Magee declined comment Thursday to The Associated Press. Attorneys for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The parents and child are also suing Beck for monetary damages related to the assault. Beck’s wife and mother, who owns an adjoining property, are named as co-defendants.
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