Lower Southampton police officers arrested 51-year-old Lee Kaplan at his home on June 16 after receiving a tip from a neighbor and finding 12 girls, ranging in age from 6 months to 18 years, living in his basement.
The girls were “living in the basement” and some of them were “hiding in the chicken coop,” said Robert Hoopes, Lower Southampton’s director of public safety, according to USA Today.
The 18-year-old girl’s father, Daniel Stoltzfus, told police that he and his wife, Savilla, “gifted” their daughter to Kaplan more than three years ago. The couple told investigators that they offered their daughter in exchange for money they needed to fund their farm in rural Lancaster County, noting that Kaplan “saved them from financial ruin.”
Kaplan is facing several charges, including statutory sexual assault. Stoltzfus has been charged with conspiracy of statutory sexual assault and children endangerment, while his wife has also been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
As of Sunday, Kaplan and the couple were being held on $1 million bail each.
Police investigators said Kaplan admitted to fathering a 3-year-old and the 6-month old with the 18-year-old. Authorities said the 18-year-old was not married to Kaplan and that he had sexually assaulted her for several years.
Hoopes said police had earlier responded to a call concerning the home, but did not have cause to search the property. He said the Stoltzfus family was or had been Amish, and he brought in an Amish tradition expert to help with the investigation and with interviewing the girls.
The other nine girls have been placed in protective custody.
Investigators found model train sets worth thousands of dollars. Evidently, Kaplan made a living selling the elaborately built toys.
One of Kaplan’s neighbors, Jen Betz, told the Associated Press that the boarded windows and high weeds were suspicious and caused her to worry for the girls’ safety.
“They’re so sad and fearful every time I see them,” Betz said. “That’s what made me call. I’ve been telling my husband for years, ‘Something isn’t right, something isn’t right.'”