Mom knew something wasn’t right about the man next door3,166 views
Jen Betz, a mom from rural Bucks County, Pa., knew something was wrong at the house next door, with its boarded windows and high weeds.
She’d seen seven or eight girls adrift in those weeds, all in blue dresses and with long, unkempt hair.
Then there was “the guy.”
“The guy drives that creepy blue van,” Betz, 37, told Philly.com of bearded, wild-haired Lee Kaplan, 51, her neighbor in Lower Southampton, just north of Philadelphia.
“He looked creepy,” she said.
When she realized last week that there was also a baby girl in the house, Betz — who herself has two young kids — took action.
She called child-welfare officials, who Thursday flung open the doors to Kaplan’s house and found a disturbing scene.
Kaplan was living with 12 girls. The oldest was a teenager he considered his wife. The youngest were the toddler and 6-month-old he’d fathered with her.
“We just kept finding children,” recalled Lower Southampton Police Lt. John Krimmel.
Even more horrifying, police say the oldest girl had been “gifted” to Kaplan four years earlier, when she was just 14, by her own parents, an Amish couple from Lancaster County named Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus.
The Stoltzfuses handed over their daughter to even up a business debt — as thanks “for helping his family out of financial ruin,” court papers say.
Without Kaplan’s cash, they would have lost their farm, they explained to cops.
So a grateful Daniel did some Internet research and decided it was perfectly legal to return the favor by giving his daughter to Kaplan, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler told.
The couple said they were also letting their other daughters live with Kaplan; it was unclear whether any of the other girls had also been abused or if, in fact, the Stoltzfuses were their parents.
“We’ve got a ways to go to figure out what’s really going on here,” Heckler said.
The three knew each other since at least 2009, when the Stoltzfuses sued their Amish community elders for ostracizing them because they’d done business “with an individual of the Jewish faith named Lee Kaplan,” as the since-dismissed suit says.
The Stoltzfuses and the girls still think the world of Kaplan, the DA said, calling the girls healthy but “brainwashed.”
The children are now together in protective custody; the Stoltzfuses and Kaplan are each being held on $1 million bail.
Kaplan is charged with statutory sexual assault; the Stoltzfuses are charged with child endangerment.
Meanwhile, Betz says she has no regrets about calling officials.
“Something needed to be done,” she said.
News Source New York Post