DOYLESTOWN, Pa. – Jurors in suburban Philadelphia are to resume deliberations Tuesday in the case of a man accused of sexually assaulting six girls in the same family, fathering two children by one of them.
Jurors deliberated for five hours Monday following closing arguments in the Bucks County trial of Lee Donald Kaplan, 52, on numerous charges of rape of a child, statutory sexual assault and other offenses.
Authorities said the mother of the girls, nine daughters and her two grandchildren had been living with Kaplan when a neighbor's tip led them to search his Feasterville home last year.
Authorities allege the parents "gifted" the oldest girl to Kaplan because he helped them financially, and he fathered her two children, one of them when she was 14. The girl is now in her late teens.
Deputy District Attorney Kate Kohler said in her closing argument that Kaplan "brainwashed" the woman and her family, casting himself as a prophet, and created a world in which "child rape was the norm." He said the sisters became his "little slaves," helping to run his business, cook for him and satisfy his sexual desires.
"They existed for one reason and one reason alone, and that was to satisfy him whenever he wanted and however he wanted," Kohler said.
Several girls testified last week that Kaplan had sex with them and they considered him 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 incarcerated 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.
"He's quirky, and by quirky I mean weird," Hyde told jurors. "But does that mean he's a pedophile?"
The children's parents are awaiting sentencing on child endangerment convictions.