neighbor harassment

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Latest post Sun, Aug 29 2010 10:17 PM by Jess H.. 15 replies.
  • Tue, Dec 27 2005 7:19 PM

    Question [=?] neighbor harassment

    How do we defend ourselves in small claims court against a neighbor that provoked my son for almost a year by harassing him? She is 47 and he is 12. She didn't like the idea that I told my children that they cannot be friends with her daughter anymore because of her involvement in a nasty internet incident against my 10 year old last year that her daughter was involved in. Since that time she has done nothing but stalk, harass, photograph, videotape, stare, etc. everytime they walked by her house (which just happens to be across the street from their best friend's house). They have a surveillance camera aimed at the street where they walk and they watch them on their big screen tv. We told him to just ignore her, she'll go away. She didn't like that, so she just kept at it. She even brought people we don't even know into it. They stare and point fingers at us.He has even been brought down to the principals office on false accusations. We are a decent family; don't use vulgar language or gestures, teach good morals, etc.
    After almost a year of this harassment, my son couldn't take the abuse anymore so he took a baseball bat to the surveillance camera (after she told him he was mental and needed a therapist). He was very upset. He would never have done anything if she didn't provoke. Unfortunately, because she is an adult (supposedly), he couldn't fight back to defend himself. Never once did she come to us stating she had a problem with him. She just likes to bully children.
    Anyhow, he was charged criminally and he pled guilty and paid the fine. Next we receive a civil suit against us for the damage to the camera and the mailbox (?) and court fees. We understand he is probably going to have to pay for the camera, but we want to know how to go to court and present his case as to why he did it without sounding like he did it just because. Never has he done something like this. He's an honor student in school, well like by his peers and teachers.
    Anyone have any ideas? This has been going on for so long, we are considering selling our house and moving, but we really don't want to give into her. We're not the type of parents that say "oh no, not my child. He would never do anything wrong. He's 12. All 12 year old boys get into mischief. If they are threatened, they are going to fight back. He just had no one to fight back to so he took out the first object he could get.
    Also, her husband is the one who sits and watches my children on his big screen tv as they walk by his house. Kind of weird, huh?
  • Wed, Dec 28 2005 2:36 AM In reply to


    re: neighbor harassment

    --We understand he is probably going to have to pay for the camera

    There's no probably about it. He and you, his parents, are jointly and severally liable for the intentional damage to the neighbor's property. I'm surprised the juvenile court did not order restitution to the neighbor as part of his punishment.

    --we want to know how to go to court and present his case as to why he did it without sounding like he did it just because.

    Why he did it in your factual situation, frankly, isn't relevant. It's not a legal defense. It would be wiser to attempt to settle with the neighbor and avoid court altogether.

    --He would never do anything wrong.

    But he DID do something wrong. He committed a crime.

    --All 12 year old boys get into mischief.

    That sounds an awful like "boys will be boys" and it's not a defense but an excuse. This wasn't "mischief." This was criminal vandalism. While putting a camera out to watch the neighbors is a bit odd, it's not completely unheard of these days and it is in no way illegal. Taking a bat to that camera IS illegal. Consult local counsel.
  • Wed, Dec 28 2005 7:30 AM In reply to

    re: neighbor harassment

    Let's face it. You'll probably have to pay for it no matter what you tell the judge. So why get a judgment on your credit report? Credit bureaus routinely pick up court judgments.

    If you settle before court make sure you get a Stipulation for Dismissal signed and YOU deliver it to the court.

    I agree that selling your house and getting out of there might be best.

    This kind of neighbor never goes away.

    I had one like that years ago, real trash. I got my revenge by selling my house to worse trash than she was.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Wed, Dec 28 2005 9:14 AM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: neighbor harassment

    No, not all 12 year old boys destroy private property with a baseball bat. This reminds me of a recent local event. A 16 year-old boy stole a car, was speeding, lost control of the car, and caused an accident. His mother was quoted as saying that everyone else was lying and that her son was doing what everyone else was doing (stealing cars).

    Settle out of court with the neighbors to avoid a judgement and put your house on the market.

    - Mark

  • Wed, Dec 28 2005 11:24 AM In reply to

    Angry [:@] re: neighbor harassment

    We know he did wrong. The problem is that we were told by the police that what the woman was doing to my son and our family could not be stopped unless she verbally or physically threatened him. We agree that paying for the camera is the right thing to do. We already had to pay the fine for the guilty plea. We understand all of that. What I'm asking is how does a 12 year old get retribution for the fact that he has been harassed for the past year for just existing. If a 12 year old boy kept coming at him and teasing him, he would eventually go off on him in self defense. Unfortunately, because the provoker is a 47 year old woman he felt he couldn't do anything. She would just call the police on him and the police would believe an adult over a child, right? Not once has this woman ever approached us about any wrong doings by my son. I know where he is every minute of the day. He is a normal 12 year old who likes to ride his bike and skateboard. He plays baseball. This was the only time he has ever done anything wrong, and he was punished for it, by both us and the court - he owes us $213 in fines. He understands he did something wrong.
    What I want to know is how to get the court to understand that what this woman did was wrong. It seems that if you are a nice guy you are always getting screwed. We tried ignoring her. Didn't work. We were even told by her that if we didn't like her behavior to move. She claims "I own the street." Well if that's the case I want her to pay my taxes and dues. It's just a bunch of high school nonsense.
    We never received anything from her about retribution until we received the court summons. She runs away from us if we even go near her (my son's friends live across the street and we are always bringing them home from the school bus).
    You see, she just can't seem to make believe we don't exist - like we have been trying to do for the past year. Everytime it seems to die down, she starts something else again. She is not a rational person. She can only do what someone else tells her to do. I would have been fine with giving her the money for the camera. I guess she feels she is making a statement (so she can brag to her friends that she took us to court). That is what I want to do. Make a statement revealing the real type of person she really is.
    This goes far beyond a camera that has been broken. That is an inanimate object. The thing that has been broken is my son. His grades have been dropping because of this, his teachers have noticed a change in his attitude (which, thankfully has been changing back to the way he was), he wants me to drive him to school because of the verbal abuse he gets from the daughter and her friends. The bus driver has to deal with who can sit next to who, etc.
    Can we file harassment charges against this woman? Slander?
  • Wed, Dec 28 2005 12:33 PM In reply to


    Disagree [)*(] re: neighbor harassment

    --we were told by the police that what the woman was doing to my son and our family could not be stopped unless she verbally or physically threatened him.

    The cops are right. Looking at you, pointing at you and having a camera that views the area in front of their house are all completely legal activities.

    --If a 12 year old boy kept coming at him and teasing him, he would eventually go off on him in self defense.

    Nope, wouldn't be self-defense, it would be an battery, another crime. Words never justify violence and you can't "hit him back first."

    --What I want to know is how to get the court to understand that what this woman did was wrong.

    You need to understand something--What she did was LEGAL and what your son did was a CRIME. She didn't "make" him smash her camera with a bat and NOTHING she may have said will ever justify your son's actions. The ONLY issue if the case goes to trial is did your son break her camera. He did and he did it intentionally. End of discussion.
  • Wed, Dec 28 2005 5:45 PM In reply to

    Angry [:@] re: neighbor harassment

    So basically what you are saying is it is okay for an adult to bully a child (yes, that is exactly what she did - she bullied him into doing something wrong so she can go around and say that he is a bad child) but she is in the right because she is an adult. You would not want to protect your own child from someone like that? Just run away? She was not on her property when she screamed at him that he needed mental help. She was on a private road. She phoographed my house, not her house. She had the video tape on the public street, not her property.She also photographed a school bus of children. She also gave my son the finger while he was still on the school bus. Who is the child? Who is the adult? She has harassed us for too long to just let her get away with it.
    If I have to go to court to humiliate her, I will. At least I will have my say!!
    I guess in this country a child has no rights against an adult. And yes, it is in self defense if he gets absolutely nowhere with the authorities. This country is screwed up!!!
    How can you justify an adult humiliating a child like she did, with absolutely no reason except for the fact that he was protecting his little sister from verbal slander?
    Just because her age says she is an adult, doesn't mean she is. She is as immature as her 12 year old daughter.
    So basically, we should just try to ignore the fact that she is the epitome of the neighbor from hell?!?! I paid a lot of money to live where I live and I will not be pushed away from some low-class wannabe!!!
    Believe me, I am not the type of parent that says not my child. My kids have to prove their innocence to me; it's not a democracy in my house. I am the authority and if someone tells me my kids did something wrong, I will tend to believe them over my kids until they can prove that that person is wrong. And believe me, lately, that's all my kids have been doing is proving to me that they are good kids! I have authorities to back me up on it.
    I will not let her have her day!!! That is the end of it all.
  • Wed, Dec 28 2005 6:19 PM In reply to


    Disagree [)*(] re: neighbor harassment

    I'm not posting to argue with strangers. You are coming from emotion, which is understandable. BUT you don't seem to want to understand that the law doesn't deal with emotion. It is cold and deals with facts. The FACTS of the case are you son was pointed at, perhaps called names and knew that a camera was watching him when he was on the street out in public. In turn, he broke the camera. Whether the other person is an adult or a child is irrelevant. She never hit him. She never touched him physically and she never posed a direct physical threat to him. In short, she did absolutely nothing illegal AND, more importantly, NONE of her actions justifies OR is a LEGAL defense to him breaking her camera. It's that simple. You are free to try to tell the court the surrounding circumstances but don't be surprised if the court cuts you off and doesn't want to hear it. None of it is relevant. The wiser course is to settle with her outside of court and move on. You son may be a wonderful kid BUT he's got to learn that the world is full of fruits and nuts and he just has to learn to deal with it. He can't respond with violence or destroy another person's property no matter how many names they call him. That's life. Dealing with people who are pains is a part of it. If you and he continue to react to her and let her antics bother you, you have given her all the power and you're playing on her field, on her terms.
  • Wed, Dec 28 2005 10:47 PM In reply to

    re: neighbor harassment

    As a wise person once said...

    "He who angers you, controls you."

    She's a loon, sounds like. So you put up with it, or move.

    Your neighbors know she's a nut. Lies have speed, but truth has endurance.

    Regards, and good luck.

    Alli
  • Thu, Dec 29 2005 10:56 AM In reply to

    re: neighbor harassment

    I'm sorry if it seems I am arguing with you. It's true. Emotion is the fuel behind this. The problem is the woman will not speak to us - she runs away when we try to approach her. So we are very frustrated. We are not violent people. We believe in appeasement. I sent her a letter trying to reason with her; it just added more fuel to the fire. I am always telling my kids "ignore them; they'll go away". She thrives on the fact that for 10 months we ignored her. The final outcome was the fact that he destroyed the camera. Not the right way to handle things, but his emotions were so over the top that he felt he had to take his frustrations out on something. Don't say he needs anger management. He is quite the opposite; a very emotional child who will walk away from conflict. In fact since then, except for the court papers, she has not once even looked in our direction. So maybe she finally got the picture; she can't bully a boy anymore.
    I also know the magistrate will probably not listen to what my son has to say, but we are going to give it a try. Maybe if he is heard out, some kind of reprimanding will go to the woman. I believe that someone out there has to have some compassion. If I had negative thoughts all of the time, what's the sense of trying to be happy?
    We are just trying to clear our name; we have strangers thinking we are terrible people, when the whole thing is we are too nice and that is how this whole thing got started. Instead of making a confrontation in the beginning, we tried to just ignore it all. We moved to this area to get away from the likes of my neighbor, only to have it thrown in our face.
    The funny thing is, another neighbor's son was also involved, but because she is so-called "friends" with the mother, nothing was ever said about his actions. In fact the boy wants to come to court and testify as to the actions of that day. He knows how the family has been treating my son; he has received the same treatment because he is friends with my son.
    We don't know why she has such a hatred for our family, and we don't care. We just want her to leave us alone, so maybe a day in court with show her her true colors.
  • Thu, Dec 29 2005 10:57 AM In reply to

    re: neighbor harassment

    thank you. It's nice to have someone understand what is behind all of this.
  • Thu, Dec 29 2005 1:47 PM In reply to

    More [=+=] re: neighbor harassment

    I agree with Gemini's assessment of the situation. To take this to court will not work in your favor. There is no legal justification for what your child did and you will find the court will not be amused. Additionally, consider that a judgment against you will impact your credit rating for the next 7-10 years. Your credit card interest rates will rise and you'll find your FICA score dropping up to a full 100 points. That's okay if you don't plan to try to finance anything for a long time in the future....It could also affect your son's future credit and he hasn't even reached adulthood yet. If the woman won't agree to compromise with you directly prior to court, perhaps hiring an attorney to negotiate for you would be worth a try. No attorney is going to recommend that you pursue this in court. You'll lose and in todays economic climate, the negative impacts far outweigh the risk.
  • Thu, Dec 29 2005 8:37 PM In reply to

    • Ford
      Lawyer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Mar 16 2000
    • Posts 12,797

    Feedback [*=*] re: neighbor harassment

    "Maybe if he is heard out, some kind of reprimanding will go to the woman."

    Not likely. The woman isn't a defendant here, and I don't see a judge getting mad at her. What she did is a bit crazy, but it's completely lawful. The freedom we have in the US gives us a TREMENDOUS ability to be weird and harassing.

    "I believe that someone out there has to have some compassion."

    We DO have compassion. We understand the problem. The fact, however, is that she was acting within the law.
  • Thu, Jan 5 2006 12:17 AM In reply to

    • Lydia72
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Wed, Jan 4 2006
    • Posts 5

    re: neighbor harassment

    I, like you, have also been dealing with an unbelievable neighbor that just won't stop. This neighbor has gone so far as to report that I have been cruel to my dog, which I treat better than most people treat their kids.....but anyway, I have tried many avenues with little success, and will not stop to find a remedy for this madness. I just can't believe how cold and unsympathetic all the responses have been to your dilemma. It seems that as long as your within the parameters of the legal system, than you can do anything to anyone (even lie), as long as it's done legally. What a joke!!!!

    It is a shame that someone so evil can be doing things "legally" but the ones who suffer for it have absolutely NO rights whatsoever. It stuns me to even think that people like this can get away with such things. Hang in there and hopefully "what comes around goes around" is actually the case. I'm still waiting for my moment of glory.
  • Sun, Jan 8 2006 12:06 PM In reply to

    • AGF05
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Wed, Dec 7 2005
    • Posts 1

    Angry [:@] re: neighbor harassment

    I totally understand your situation. My family, too, have been harassed by our neighbor across the street from us. My 2 boys, 10 & 12, cannot play out side with their friends with out him out there watching constantly or calling the police and making bogus reports. He has also installed a video camera and it is pointed directly at the front of my house. My 10 year old is now paranoid that the man may be coming into our house when we are asleep or gone.
    I'm running into the same problem as you about how to resolve this matter. There seems to be no laws protecting citizens from such harassment.

    Good luck. I will post if I come up with any helpful info...
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