DOYLESTOWN, Pa. >> A man was convicted today of sexually assaulting six girls in the same family, fathering two children by one of them.
Authorities allege the girls’ parents had “gifted” their oldest daughter to Lee Donald Kaplan because he helped the family out of financial ruin.
Jurors in Bucks County convicted Kaplan, 52, on all 17 counts of rape of a child, statutory sexual assault and other offenses. The conviction came a year after a neighbor’s tip prompted authorities to search Kaplan’s Feasterville home.
Police had said the girls’ father told an officer he gave his oldest daughter to Kaplan because he thought it was legal based on research he had conducted online. Kaplan fathered two children with the girl, the first when she was 14. She’s now in her late teens.
A sentencing date wasn’t set following the verdict, which came after jurors deliberated for more than nine hours over two days. The six girls’ parents are awaiting sentencing on child endangerment convictions.
Deputy District Attorney Kate Kohler said in her closing argument Monday that Kaplan “brainwashed” the family, casting himself as a prophet, and created a world in which “child rape was the norm.” Several girls testified they considered Kaplan to be their husband.
A 9-year-old testified that Kaplan began molesting her when she was 7 and the defendant told her not to tell anyone. The girls’ mother testified that she knew about the sexual activity but believed “it could be a good thing.”
Defense attorney Ryan Hyde said the family considered Kaplan married to the oldest girl and he never abused the others. He said they lied at the insistence of their mother and reversed initial statements denying abuse to help get her out of jail. Hyde also characterized his client as having been taken advantage of by the family following his generosity.