The parents of a young Pennsylvania girl sexually molested by a neighbor are facing a setback in their legal effort to force the man to buy their house.
Forcing Oliver Beck to buy the home of his neighbors "would open the proverbial floodgates'' to similar lawsuits, a Lehigh County judge ruled.
Beck pleaded guilty in 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 child's parents said they don't want to live next to 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 their three daughters. The plaintiffs want Beck to buy their house for $350,000.
Judge Michele Varricchio ruled against the parents.
"This court finds it against public policy to require a defendant to purchase a plaintiff's property in a nuisance case,'' Varricchio wrote in a decision issued last week. "Allowing a recover would impose almost limitless liability on a property owner by every other neighbor who claims difficulty selling his or her property, regardless of the proximity to the alleged nuisance.''
Varricchio allowed other claims in their lawsuit to go forward.