Lee Kaplan was arrested and faces several charges, including statutory sexual assault after 12 girls were rescued from a house of horrors in southeast Pennsylvania. They were found living with the 51-year-old man in the town of Feasterville.
Many neighbors say they were concerned about what was happening inside Lee Kaplan’s house, according to Gulf News. But one woman said she had no clue what was happening on the other side of her fence.
“Very sheltered,” the neighbor said of the girls. “I would see them in the front yard working a small garden.”
Investigators came to the home on Thursday and found 12 girls, ranging in age from six months old to 18 years old, living with Kaplan, where the man was arrested. The oldest victim told police she is the mother of a three-year-old and a six-month-old, both fathered by Kaplan.
Kaplan told police he began having sex with her when she was 14 years old. The girl’s parents, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, told investigators they gave their daughter to Kaplan as payment for a loan. Daniel Stoltzfus said he thought it would be legal, after doing research online. The parents are also under arrest.
The girls are now in the state’s custody in Lancaster County, home to a large Amish community. Lower Southampton public safety director Robert Hoopes said investigators will interview the girls on Monday.
“I guess they were homeschooling the kids, there was some homework found down there,” said Hoopes.
Police say the children appear to be in good health. Authorities have not confirmed if all of the girls are related, Cosmopolitan Magazine reports.
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.
The 18-year-old’s parents, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus of Quarryville, are charged with endangering the welfare of children. Daniel Stoltzfus also faces charges of criminal conspiracy and statutory sexual assault, according to a criminal complaint filed by police in Bucks County.
Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said that the Stoltzfuses claimed to be the parents of 10 of the girls, and the grandparents of the remaining two children. Kaplan and Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus are being held on $1 million bail in the Bucks County Correctional Facility, according to court dockets.
Officers from the Lower Southampton Police Department said they responded to the small white home on Old Street in the Feasterville community on a tip from a neighbor, Jen Betz, who said she had contacted authorities multiple times about the situation.
“My gut was telling me to confirm what I was thinking. I just knew. There was no reason why this older, significantly older man, any man, regardless of what they look like, would have this amount of children, all in blue dresses, never outside the house regularly, looking so scared,” she said. “I knew that something wasn’t right.”
Kaplan had told neighbors that no children lived with him, according to the complaint. In his booking photo, Kaplan appears with long gray hair and an unkempt beard. He is the owner of Kaplan Precision Machine Company, according to state corporation filings.
“I really can’t believe it, because I really thought it was his own daughter,” an unidentified neighbor said, referring to the 18-year-old. “It looks like his own daughter to me.”
Other neighbors told the affiliate the girls didn’t go to school and were rarely let outside, WTAJ reported.
According to police affidavits, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus “came to an agreement” to give Kaplan their daughter after Daniel Stoltzfus “researched the legality of it on the Internet,” the affidavit says.
“Stoltzfus stated that his daughter … was ‘gifted’ to Lee Kaplan in thanks for helping his family out of financial ruin,” the affidavit continues.
Yahoo News said authorities were told by Savilla Stoltzfus that she could produce birth certificates for the 10 older girls, Heckler said. Authorities had not yet obtained birth certificates on Sunday, he said, adding that any such documents and medical tests would determine whether the girls are in fact all the children or grandchildren of the couple.