The parents of a child molested by a neighbor now want to force the molester to buy their home.
Oliver Larry Beck pleaded guilty in September 2011 for indecent assault on a victim less than 13 years of age, according to the Pennsylvania State Police Megan's Law website.
Beck, 65, was sentenced to three to 23 months in prison , according to the Morning Call. He is now out of prison and back in his old neighborhood, Upper Milford Township, Pa.
The family of the victim wants to move away from their daughter's abuser, but say that the presence of Beck -- now a registered sex offender -- is making it impossible to sell their home.
The situation has incited the family to file a lawsuit in Lehigh County Court asking that a judge order Beck to buy their property, valued at $235,000.
Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia Law professor, told the Morning Call that "the court may say it has no authority to order that." Laycock noted that if the family can prove the home lost value, and "if the owners are entitled to recover for that, that value can be awarded in damages without transferring ownership of the house."
A 2010 study conducted by business professors at Longwood University in Virginia found that homes within a one-tenth mile area of a registered sex offender lose about nine percent of their value. Additionally, those same homes took as much as 10 percent longer to sell than homes not located near sex offenders.
The Longwood study was based on housing market data in rural central Virginia. However, a 2008 study based on housing data in the greater Charlotte, N.C. area, found that housing values only dropped by an average of 4 percent within a one-tenth mile area, and did not change in a statistically significant way at greater distances. Notably, houses directly next-door to a sex offender dropped about 12 percent in value.
The Longwood researchers note that the discrepancies suggest "a fundamental difference between rural and urban areas in values placed on crime risk imposed by nearby sex offenders."