The mother of six girls who Lee Kaplan, 52 (pictured), of Feasterville, Pennsylvania, is charged with abusing said her daughters were ‘gifted’ as wives after he helped the family out financially
A child welfare official testified Friday that the young girls ‘gifted’ to a 52-year-old Pennsylvania man who allegedly had routine sexual contact with them for years were so unkempt they needed to be taught how to wash their hair.
Lee Kaplan, a self-described ‘prophet,’ is on trial for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting six sisters while they lived in his Bucks County house during a five-year period before his arrest last year.
Kaplan’s trial began on Wednesday, during which it was learned that the girls’ parents agreed to give at least one daughter to him.
The mother of the six girls says she knew about the sexual activity but believed it ‘could be a good thing’.
Stacy Roach, a Bucks County Children and Youth supervisor, testified on Friday that after Kaplan’s arrest, the girls were taken to a doctor for the first time in their lives, according to Philly.com.
Doctors diagnosed three of the girls with Lyme disease while five of the girls needed to have a number of teeth removed.
‘They had to be shown a video of how to wash long hair,’ Roach said.
‘It was obvious with the amount of dental work they needed that they probably didn’t brush their teeth.’
After Kaplan’s arrest, the girls were put into foster care. They were enrolled in an online school and now have Social Security numbers and birth certificates.
Authorities say the Feasterville man fathered two children with one of the girls, who they allege had been ‘gifted’ to him by her parents because he helped them financially.
Police arrested Kaplan at his home in June 2016 after receiving a complaint about the health and safety of numerous children in the home.
When police responded, they discovered 11 girls living there.
Kaplan allegedly admitted to police that he fathered the two youngest children – a three-year-old and a 10-month-old – with the oldest girl, who was 18 at the time, according to CBS Philly.
The three other girls living at the home were the daughters of a Lancaster County couple who had broken away from the Amish community, investigators revealed.
Deputy District Attorney Kate Kohler argued in her opening statement that Kaplan ‘brainwashed’ Savilla Stoltzfus and her family, casting himself as a prophet, as he sought ‘power, manipulation and control’.
‘All they knew was life with the defendant as their leader, their preacher, their husband,’ she said.
Police who arrested Kaplan in June 2016 at his Feasterville home (pictured) discovered 11 girls living in the house, including two whom he fathered with the oldest Stoltzfus daughter. Savilla Stoltzfus says she knew about the sexual contact but believed it stemmed from Kaplan’s dreams that were communications from God
‘Six children became his victims. Six children became his sex toys.’
During proceedings in court on Friday, it was learned that Stoltzfus urged her daughters to tell the truth to authorities about their sexual activities with Kaplan.
‘Most people would consider him a very bad man,’ one of Stoltzfus’ daughters said in a conversation recorded by detectives that was played in court on Friday.
‘We understand it was God,’ their mother is heard saying on the tape.
‘We understand it was for a good purpose.’
Police say the girls’ father, Daniel Stoltzfus, told them he and his wife ‘gifted’ one of their daughters to Kaplan after he financially helped the couple.
Defense attorney Ryan Hyde argued that Kaplan was married to the oldest daughter in the family’s eyes and the other children loved him.
He denied Kaplan abused the younger girls.
Kaplan (pictured in August 2016) is currently facing numerous charges of rape and sexual assault as he stands trial
‘He was advancing their lives,’ Hyde said, contending that the family took advantage of Kaplan’s generosity.
‘He was running them out of the darkness that was their lives beforehand.’
The mother of the girls, who along with her husband is awaiting sentencing on child endangerment convictions, said she knew about the sexual contact but believed it stemmed from Kaplan’s dreams that were communications from God.
‘I could see that it could be a good thing,’ she testified. ‘I always trusted him that whatever goes on is a good thing.’
She later said she had no regrets because ‘we had a good life’.
She also told jurors she thought of Kaplan as an authority figure and discipline in his home was ‘understood as a way of life’.
‘As we all well know and understand, we’re familiar with him and his ways, and we understand that he’s always motivated to follow the leading of God,’ she said.
‘We understood that… it was the right thing to do or in God’s leading.’
Although it was the oldest daughter who became pregnant, it was her younger sister who originally was offered in marriage to Kaplan, Stoltzfus testified.
The oldest, now 19, said she loves and misses Kaplan, and that she preferred living in his home to her parents’, which was full of her siblings.
‘I thought it was a good place for me,’ she said Wednesday afternoon according to Philly.com.
‘I think it turned out really well.’