Family Sues to Force Sex Offender Neighbor to Buy Its House

The sex offender was convicted of assaulting the family's young daughter.

March 20, 2013, 12:14 PM

March 20, 2013 — -- A Pennsylvania family has sued in an attempt to force its sex offender neighbor to buy the family's house, where the family claims its "trapped" after he was convicted of sexually assaulting their daughter.

The lawsuit was filed in Lehigh County by the child's parents.

Oliver Larry Beck, 65, pleaded guilty in 2011 to indecent assault of a child under the age of 13, and was sentenced to three to 23 months in prison. He served time, and upon his release, was forced to register as a sex offender.

The family claims that its home's proximity to a registered sex offender makes it "virtually unmarketable." The parents also claim they feel "trapped" living next door to the man who violated their daughter.

Beck's attorney did not respond to's request for comment.

"The situation is not a run-of-the-mill general situation where there's just a registered sex offender in the general area or even in close proximity," Diane Sodano, the family's attorney, told "The sex offender owns all of the property surrounding this family."

The lawsuit identifies Sodano's clients, the girl, who is now 9 years old, and her parents, by only their initials.

"We are not trying to address the large socio-economic issue of anyone who may live in close proximity to a registered sex offender and that effect on their property value," Sodano said. "That is a much broader issue that is not intended to be addressed."

"This is a ... unique, specific situation," she said. "It's financially unfeasible for this family to move. They are trapped in this house."

The lawsuit claims that when the family moved into its house in 2005, Beck "reached out and befriended the plaintiffs over the years, building ... trust in them. ..."

The parents also have two younger daughters and claim in the lawsuit that Beck befriended them by giving them generous Halloween bags, Christmas gifts and money. They claim he "regularly" left gifts of fresh produce and flowers on the family's patio.

In the winter of 2009-2010, according to the lawsuit, Beck's "interactions" with his neighbor's older daughter intensified. He gave her "more frequent and longer four-wheeler rides," and took her to feed fish at a pond and farm animals at a neighbor's property, and put out food for "native animals."

The suit also detailed a number of incidents in which Beck "inappropriately touched" the little girl "on various parts of her person, including her vaginal area," removed her clothing and videotaped some of the assaults.

On many occasions and dates between 2009 through Feb. 2, 2011, Beck "outrageously, recklessly, intentionally, willfully, and/or maliciously did touch [the girl] in the aforesaid ways," the lawsuit claims.

The child "has suffered and will indefinitely into the future continue to suffer great mental anguish, emotional distress, psychological injuries, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, shame, humiliation, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, pain, suffering, and inconvenience, and related adverse effects," the lawsuit states.

The family is also asking for punitive damages for a number of reasons, including to cover therapy, counseling and attorney fees.

Beck's "physical presence in close and constant proximity" to the family has put them under "duress" to move, but they have had trouble selling the house with a sex offender so close by.

They are asking that Beck be forced to pay $350,000 that would include the fair market value of their current home and the estimated costs of moving.

"What an unbelievable case," Jamison Colburn, a professor of law at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law, told "Given the extraordinary nature of the relief they're asking, it strikes me that they have an uphill battle."

Colburn said the family could feasibly sell the house at a discounted price, and the court could order Beck to pay the difference.

"That's probably where the court would default to supposing they don't dismiss it outright," he said.

He said it was also possible that the suit could go forward, with some damages eventually paid, even if Beck is not ultimately forced to buy the house.

When asked if he had ever heard of a comparable situation or case, Colburn said, "Not in my life."

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