A suburban Philadelphia man is facing multiple charges after being found living with 12 girls, one of whom was a “gift” from financially struggling parents, WBIR reports.
Charges against 51-year-old Lee Kaplan include statutory sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault. According to the report, acting on a tip from a neighbor, authorities found Kaplan in his home with the girls, ranging in age from 6 months to 18 years. The 18-year-old told authorities that she and Kaplan were the parents of a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old.
"They were living in the basement, they were hiding in the chicken coop," Lower Southampton, Pa.'s director of public safety, Robert Hoopes, said of the girls. The children were apparently homeschooled, with musical instruments and homework found in the basement.
According to the report, authorities were trying to determine the identity of the nine other girls found in the home, including the possibility that all of them are related.
WBIR reports that the teen's father, 43-year-old Daniel Stoltzfus, acknowledged that he and his wife "gifted" the girl to Kaplan about four years ago after researching its legality on the internet. Stoltzfus said that he and his wife were broke and were going to lose their farm in Lancaster County, Pa., when Kaplan "saved them from financial ruin," the report said.
Stoltzfus is now facing charges of conspiracy to commit statutory sexual assault and children endangerment, while his wife, Savilla, is facing charges of endangering the welfare of a child. Kaplan and the Stoltzfuses are each being held on $1 million bail.
Hoopes said that the Stoltzfuses were or had been Amish, and dismissed claims from neighbors that they had been complaining about the situation alleged in the Kaplan home for years.
"What kind of call did they [make]?" Hoopes asked, according to the station. "That they saw Amish people? That's the kind of calls we got. We didn't get any child-abuse calls. If it was a child-abuse call, we would have responded."
Hoopes added that authorities had responded to a call about the home at least once in the past but found no probable cause for a search warrant. The children did not appear to be malnourished and the home was in relatively good condition.
According to the report, the children are now in protective custody and police are trying to determine whether they were abused.
Read more at WBIR.