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Parents charged for 'gifting' 14-year-old daughter to man to repay debt

In this Saturday, June 19, 2016 photo, two women walk past the home of Lee Kaplan in Feasterville, Pa. Kaplan is accused of sexually assaulting a teenager whose parents gave her to him, according to police. Officials acting on a tip Thursday found Kaplan at his home along with numerous girls, ranging in age from 6 months to 18 years.
Image Credit: Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
June 21, 2016 - 9:30 AM

Police are interviewing several of the 12 girls found living with a suburban Philadelphia man charged with sexually assaulting a teenager who authorities say had been given to him by her parents.

When police showed up at Lee Kaplan's home in the Philadelphia suburbs last week, they found a dozen girls living there, the eldest of whom was an 18-year-old who authorities say had been "gifted" to him by her parents as repayment for a debt.

With Kaplan and the teen's parents now jailed on $1 million bail, authorities on Monday began interviewing some of the other girls, seeking evidence of crimes against them and trying to piece together their lives at the home in Feasterville.

The interviews "will be taking place over the next couple of days to try to see just what these kids' lives were about, who they are and obviously if there was any criminal conduct toward any of them," said David Heckler, Bucks County district attorney.

Acting on a tip Thursday, police found Kaplan, 51, and a dozen girls ranging in age from 6 months to 18 years. The eldest told authorities she and Kaplan have two children together, a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old.

The teenager's parents are Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, a formerly Amish couple from Lancaster County. Daniel Stoltzfus told police he and his wife "gifted" their daughter to Kaplan when she was 14 to thank Kaplan "for helping his family out of financial ruin," according to a police affidavit.

Kaplan admitted he fathered two children with the teen, court records say. He faces charges that include statutory sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault. Daniel Stoltzfus, 43, was charged with conspiracy and child endangerment. Savilla Stoltzfus, 42, faces a child endangerment charge.

Online court records do not list attorneys for any of the defendants.

The couple told police the other nine children in Kaplan's home belong to them. The children have been placed in foster care in Lancaster County.

Elizabethtown College professor Donald Kraybill, an expert on the Amish, said the couple was ex-communicated by the church in 2003.

"This whole thing is bizarre. It doesn't reflect any of the traditional, typical Amish beliefs or practices," he said Monday. "It's basically not an Amish story."

Records show the couple filed a federal lawsuit against an Amish sect, among others, in 2009 after they lost their property in Kirkwood, Lancaster County, to foreclosure. The suit was dismissed.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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