FEASTERVILLE, Pa. (CBSNewYork/CBS Philly/CBS News/AP) — A man was in custody in eastern Pennsylvania Friday, on allegations that he fathered two children with a teenage girl who had been living in his home.
Lower Southampton, Pennsylvania police told KYW-TV, CBS3 Philadelphia that they had arrested Lee Kaplan, 51, and two other adults who live in the house in the 400 block of Old Street Road in Feasterville, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, the house was teeming with young girls and teens. Twelve of them were placed with Child Protective Services after getting a tip that severe abuse may be happening in the house.
Jen Betz lives nearby, and what she saw prompted her to call authorities.
“You notice these little children, these little girls — only little girls — and they’d be outside very sporadically; very rarely. You’d see one or two,” Betz told KYW-TV’s Joe Holden. “I just made the call. I don’t know, just an instinct.”
According to a probable cause affidavit filed by the Lower Southampton Township Police Department, a resident at the home told neighbors that no children lived there.
When police responded, they discovered the 12 girls. They allege Kaplan admitted to having sex with the teen when she was 14 and fathering a 3-year-old as well as a 6-month-old. The now-18-year-old woman also told police that she was the mother of two of the children and said she was not married to Kaplan, according to the affidavit.
The teenage girl was allegedly given to Kaplan by her own parents, as what may have been some type of payment in a business transaction when the family was in “financial ruin.”
“Mr. Kaplan had her living there as some kind of repayment for a financial situation,” Lower Southampton Township Police Lt. Ted Krimmel told KYW-TV.
He told police he thought it was legal after he did some research online, an affidavit said.
The girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by Kaplan for several years, prosecutors said.
At least 11 other girls, ranging in age from 6 months to 18-years-old, were also found in the home, prosecutors said.
Police said they had no birth certificates for the girls and could not find any information on them. Authorities told KYW-TV the children found in the home appear to be Amish, and none are enrolled in area schools.
It is unknown if any of the other children were subject to any abuse, officials said.
Neighbors said Kaplan kept to himself and kept the girls inside the home almost all the time.
“I just saw him when he do watering the plants, and when he drive his car, he go out there, I saw him, but speak with them? No. Even the kids I haven’t speak with them,” a neighbor told Dan Wing of KYW Newsradio 1060.
Police called the case one of the most bizarre that they have investigated in recent memory.
“We believe that (the children are) originally from Lancaster County in the Amish community,” Trimmel said. “Right now, we’re working on getting an expert with Amish culture to help us conduct interviews on the rest of these children.”
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Kaplan was charged with statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault on a person under 16, and corruption of minors, prosecutors said. He appeared in Bucks County court for a preliminary arraignment Friday afternoon.
The other two adults arrested were Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, the teenage mother’s parents. Daniel is charged with criminal conspiracy, statutory sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Savilla also faces charges of endangering the welfare of a child.
All three are being held on $1 million bail.
Investigators late Friday were still piecing together what exactly happened, Heckler said, including how Kaplan and the couple met each other.
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