A man from eastern Pennsylvania, identified by authorities as Lee Kaplan, faces charges of child abuse and he is accused of various sexual offenses — including rape of minors — after police found twelve girls living with him in his home. According to a report from CBS News, Kaplan confessed to having sex with some of them, and he also admitted to fathering the youngest child — a six-month-old — and a three-year-old child with an 18-year-old girl.
Kaplan, 51, was arrested in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on Thursday after social services came to the residence thanks to a tip from a neighbor. Authorities arrested the man at his home in Feasterville, about 30 kilometers northeast of Philadelphia, on Thursday after receiving a complaint about the health and safety of “many children” who lived in the house.
“I just wasn’t going to let go. I saw a couple girls last week standing in the driveway. They just looked unhappy and sad… and I’ve been telling my husband for years something isn’t right, something isn’t right,” nearby resident Jen Betz told reporters.
According to an affidavit from the Lower Southampton Police Department, the resident of the house had told the neighbors that no children were living there. However, once in the apartment, police discovered 12 girls living in deplorable conditions. CNN reports that Kaplan was 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.
It is believed that all of the girls were originally from an Amish community and had been forced to live on the property with Kaplan. There is speculation that one of them was “given away” by their parents to Kaplan, in gratitude for supporting them financially. Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus reportedly “came to an agreement” to give Kaplan their daughter after Daniel Stoltzfus “researched the legality of it on the Internet.”
“Stoltzfus stated that his daughter… was ‘gifted’ to Lee Kaplan in thanks for helping his family out of financial ruin,” the report states.
Kaplan reportedly saved the Stoltzfus’ farm. The parents, who were born in an Amish community but renounced the faith in 2009, have admitted that they gave up their daughter after consulting information online stating that it would be legal. Kaplan impregnated the girl, then 14 years old, almost immediately, and another time at age 17. This girl is now 18.
The girl’s father is charged with conspiracy of statutory sexual assault and children endangerment. His wife is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Kaplan and the victim’s parents are being held on $1 million bail each at the Bucks County Jail.
Police don’t know if any of the other girls were sexually abused; they will be questioned in coming days.
Details in this bizarre case are still being sorted out and the authorities are trying to figure out who the parents of the other girls in the home are. Apparently, they were not educated and had never received professional medical consultation, although they reportedly were in good health. The Stoltzfus claim that the other nine girls also found in the house were their daughters. However, no birth certificates or Social Security cards could be located to confirm they were the parents.
Neighbors report that when they saw the children, they often appeared “fearful” and “sad.” The house was boarded and the lawn was full of overgrown grass. The neighbor who filed a complaint says he always felt “something was not right.”
“You knew something was wrong,” neighbor Bob Greenfield said, before adding that he regrets not notifying police of the situation sooner.
[Image via video screenshot]