Lee Kaplan, a 51-year-old man from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault after cops discovered 12 girls being held captive in his house, according to several reports emerging in the media.
The man was apprehended after a neighbor got suspicious when she noticed some girls, who had otherwise rarely been seen outside the house, in Kaplan’s backyard.
The neighbor, identified by the New York Post as Jen Betz, told reporters that after seeing about eight girls with unkempt hair, with all of them wearing the same sort of blue dress, she knew something was wrong at the house. Betz, who has two kids of her own, fearing that that Kaplan might be up to something bizarre, informed child-welfare officers about her suspicions.
Sure enough, when officers stormed into Kaplan’s house in Lower Southampton, just north of Philadelphia, they were greeted by a very disturbing scene.
“We just kept finding children,” said Lower Southampton Police Lt. John Krimmel.
In all, Krimmel and his colleagues found 12 girls in Lee Kaplan’s house, their ages ranging from six months to 18 years.
According to CNN, Kaplan has been charged with statutory sexual assault, corruption of minors, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor, according to a police criminal complaint filed in Bucks County.
But if you think that is the worst you have heard of this story, you are unfortunately mistaken.
Of the dozen girls that Lee Kaplan held captive in his house, the oldest one was reportedly a “gift,” whom he received as a token of appreciation from the Amish parents of the girl when she was 14.
The parents of the girl, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, told the police that they had “gifted” their daughter to Kaplan after he helped them evade financial ruin. Kaplan gave them money needed to save their farm, and after researching the legality of giving away a child, Daniel and Savilla gave their daughter to Kaplan four years ago.
According to Kaplan’s own admission, two of the toddlers of the dozen girls found in his house, are actually children he fathered with the “gifted” girl.
There are chances that the other girls in the house could also belong to the Stoltzfuses, and they may also have been abused, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler told Philly.com.
“We’ve got a ways to go to figure out what’s really going on here,” he said.
There is another angle to the story which stands out. According to a few of the neighbors who held suspicions about Lee Kaplan, the police were informed about him several times, but to no avail. Kaplan’s next-door neighbor, Anthony Zampirri Sr., told the Daily Beast that he had informed the police as far back as 2013.
Another neighbor, Bonnie Knoll, had reportedly informed child-protection services last month, but they never checked up on Lee Kaplan.
There are serious allegations that the police failed to act when first confronted with the severity of the crime, and while internal investigations may be carried out in the near future, Heckler said that the priority right now is to find out the depths to which Kaplan stooped over the last few years.
“We have to investigate this first,” he said. “Any investigation of what the police did or didn’t do will have to come after the investigation.”
Lee Kaplan is in jail on a $1 million bond, and if convicted of the charges already leveled against him, could spend the rest of his life in jail.
[Image via Bucks County Sheriff’s Office]