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Man used ‘Godlike sway’ to take six young girls as his ‘wives,’ prosecutors say

(Bucks County District Attorney’s Office)

Behind a bright blue door at a home in southeastern Pennsylvania, Lee Kaplan was living with 11 girls.

Nine of them were sisters. The other two, prosecutors said, were his own children.

Kaplan was charged in June with statutory sexual assault and other offenses for his relationship with a now-18-year-old girl who ended up giving birth to his two children.

According to the teen’s father, the 18-year-old was a “gift” to Kaplan when she was 14 “in thanks for helping his family out of financial ruin,” according to court documents.

Now Kaplan, of Feasterville, Pa., faces a slew of additional charges after authorities said he sexually assaulted five of the teen’s sisters, girls now between the ages of 8 and 17.

“It saddens me, it sickens me, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub told The Washington Post. “Because this guy, he’s the proverbial fox in the henhouse. He was given access to a full family and made them his victims.”

Weintraub said authorities know that six of the sisters living in the house were abused, but they do not have evidence that the 52-year-old abused the other three sisters. The investigation is ongoing.

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The prosecutor said last week that Kaplan had been charged with numerous sex crimes, including rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault and indecent assault, according to a criminal complaint.

Kaplan’s attorney, Ryan Hyde, said that his client had a “familial relationship” with the girls and their parents and that he is “dumbfounded” by the “serious allegations” against him.

“He believes he had a good relationship with the family,” Hyde said. “He’s asserting his innocence.”

The trial for Kaplan, as well as the girls’ parents, was set to begin Monday but has been postponed.

Kaplan was arrested in June after a neighbor, who said she was concerned about the girls, called police.

“They’re so sad and fearful every time I see them,” Jen Betz told the Associated Press, The Washington Post reported earlier this year.

“Something needed to be done,” she told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Authorities said 11 girls had been living at Kaplan’s home in Feasterville, 20 miles from Philadelphia, where it appeared they were being home-schooled and some were sleeping on air mattresses in the basement, according to the newspaper. The girls’ mother was living there as well, according to the prosecutor.

The prosecutor described Kaplan as a “cultlike figure” to the parents, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, who had accepted money from Kaplan years ago when they fell on hard times, and their relationship with him evolved from there.

“I believe the parents should be held criminally responsible for what they enabled this man to do their daughters,” Weintraub said, “but that being said, he convinced them to allow him to do this with his Godlike sway over them.”

The prosecutor said Kaplan claimed to have dreams in which God told him to take the girls as his wives.

“Under that guise, he was able to sexually molest these sisters,” Weintraub said.

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As part of the ongoing criminal investigation, authorities interviewed the five other girls Oct. 27, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The court documents show that the initial victim, now 18, said that when she was 10, Kaplan had a bedroom at her parents’ home, where he “first invited her to sleep with him in his bed.” When she was 12, Kaplan allegedly had sex with her, according to court documents.

Their children are now 3 and nearly 1.

She told authorities that five of her sisters were also Kaplan’s wives.

The second sister told authorities that when she was 7 or 8, “Kaplan told her that her father agreed to give her to him in marriage, but the marriage would not be formalized until she was older,” according to the court documents. When she was 14, she said, he took her as his wife and “consummated” their marriage.

“This guy essentially created a feeding ground of victims from which he could prey,” the prosecutor said.

The girls’ father was charged with conspiracy statutory sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, according to court documents.

Two fathers raped their daughters. One got 60 days in jail. The other? 1,503 years in prison.

The documents alleged that 43-year-old Daniel Stoltzfus told police that he and his wife did “give” his now-18-year-old daughter to Kaplan and that he knew Kaplan and the teen had conceived two children.

Savilla Stoltzfus, 43, told police that she knew her daughter was having sex with Kaplan and did not attempt to remove her from the situation, court documents say.

She has also been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Hyde, Kaplan’s attorney, said his client’s hope is that “he can still have a chance at a fair trial.”

The new trial date for Kaplan and the Stoltzfuses has not been set.

Read more:

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