A Pennsylvania man, 51-year-old Lee Kaplan, is facing sexual assault charges after police discovered 12 Amish girls living in his Feasterville house. According to police, one of the girls was sold by her Amish parents to Kaplan several years ago, reports WGAL. The girl is from an Amish community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The girl’s parents are also in custody and facing charges. Kaplan admits to fathering two children with the teen. The girls discovered in Kaplan’s home ranged from 6 months to 18 years.
Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, also of Pennsylvania, told police they “gifted” their daughter to Kaplan in appreciation after he saved them from financial ruin, according to the criminal complaint filed by police. The parents said they knew that Kaplan was having sexual intercourse with their daughter who conceived her first child when she was just 14-years-old. The girl is now 18-years-old and has two children by Kaplan, a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old.
Lee Kaplan who said he considers the Amish girl to be his wife, has admitted that he had sexual intercourse with the Amish girl when she was just 14-years-old.
Lower Southampton Township police went to the house on Thursday after receiving a complaint about the health and safety of the children. Initially, Kaplan told neighbors that no children lived there. Police made a surprise visit to the home based on an anonymous tip.
Some of the girls were hiding in closets when police arrived.
“We kept finding more children,” Lower Southampton Police Lt. John Krimmel said. “It’s just a crazy situation.”
“Right now we’re coordinating with authorities in Lancaster County to interview these children in a safe environment,” said Krimmel.
Police in Pennsylvania are trying to identify the other girls. They said there aren’t any birth certificates and the girls did not attend school. Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus said all the girls are theirs except the youngest two, which are their grandchildren by Kaplan. It is unclear why all their children were living with Kaplan.
A neighbor said she saw several young girls in blue dresses in Kaplan’s driveway.
“I just wasn’t gonna let go. I saw a couple girls last week standing in the driveway. They just looked unhappy and sad and again in the blue dresses, and I’ve been telling my husband for years something isn’t right, something isn’t right,” said Jen Betz of Feasterville. Betz said she hopes the girls get the therapy they need.
Daniel Stoltzfus, of Lancaster County, said they were going to lose their farm until Lee Kaplan helped them out. Stoltzfus said that Lee Kaplan researched it online and it was legal to “gift” their 14-year-old daughter to Kaplan.
Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said some of the girls were brain-washed by Kaplan, according to Philly.com.
The girls are believed to be 18, 17, 15, 13, 10, 8, 7, 5, 3, 3, and 6-months-old. All of the children are in protective custody. Police have asked child welfare workers from Lancaster County who are familiar with the Amish culture to interview the girls.
Darlene Herritt, 50, who has lived near Kaplan for 30 years spoke about her neighbor.
“It’s right here, literally in my backyard. This is inexcusable. And to know he’s been hiding right here. It’s calm, it’s peaceful, it’s quiet. He picked a good place to hide.”
Officials said they were not sure if the girls suffered any abuse, but said they did not look malnourished.
Kaplan is charged with statutory sexual assault, indecent assault of a person under 16, corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor. Kaplan remains jailed on $1 million bail.
The Stoltfzuses, from Quarryville, Lancaster County, are charged with conspiracy for statutory assault, endangering the welfare of children and related offenses. Stoltzfuses also are being held on $1 million bail each.
[Photo by Lower Southampton Police Department via AP]