Man charged with rape after receiving ‘gift’ of US teen

Lee Kaplan
Lee Kaplan

NEW YORK: The authorities in Pennsylvania have charged a man with raping a teenage girl with whom he fathered two children after receiving her as a “gift” from her parents, US media said Saturday. Police arrested Lee Kaplan, 51, in the town of Feasterville – around 30 km northeast of Philadelphia -on Thursday on charges including statutory sexual assault and corruption of a minor, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The teen’s parents and her nine sisters also lived in Kaplan’s home. The 18-year-old teen was the oldest among her siblings. Child welfare authorities removed the young mother, her two young daughters and her nine sisters. The victim’s parents, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, gave her to Kaplan four years ago in gratitude “for helping (the) family out of financial ruin,” according to criminal complaints. She was 14 years old at the time. Her two children are three years old and six months old.

Her parents have also been arrested, news reports said. They and Kaplan are being held on $1 million bail each. The Stoltzfuses told police they were going to lose their farm until Kaplan “comes along and gives them money somehow,” Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler told the Inquirer. The teen previously lived in an Amish town in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her parents and siblings before the family was kicked out of the community for unknown reasons, the authorities said.

Although Kaplan and the 18-year-old were not married, they acted as husband and wife, officials said. The girls rarely went outside, neighbors told local media. None of the children appears to have attended school and it was unclear if they had ever been to a doctor. However, officials said they saw no visible signs of abuse or poor health.

The authorities said an anonymous phone call had tipped them off. Local media identified the caller as Jen Betz, a neighbor. She told television station WPVI she had seen several young girls living in the home all wearing blue dresses and appearing afraid. “I just wasn’t gonna let go,” Betz said. “I saw a couple girls last week standing in the driveway. They just looked unhappy and sad and again in the blue dresses, and I’ve been telling my husband for years something isn’t right, something isn’t right.”

Suspicious neighbors had complained about the home three years ago, local television station CBS3 reported. “I really can’t believe it, because I really thought it was his own daughter,” another neighbor told the station. – AFP

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