DA: Pa. man in gifted teen case "groomed" girls to believe him a prophet

Lee Kaplan is seen in this photo provided by the Lower Southampton Police Department in Pennsylvania.

Lower Southampton Police Department via KYW-TV

FEASTERVILLE, Pa. -- Prosecutors say a Pennsylvania man accused of fathering two children with a teen girl “gifted” to him by her parents also sexually assaulted five of her sisters, calling them his wives.

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub on Monday announced new child sex abuse charges against Lee Kaplan, of Feasterville. Weintraub says Kaplan represented himself as a religious figure to the sisters, who were from a formerly Amish family in Lancaster County.

“He played on their trust and affection for him and he groomed them to see him as a religious and cult-like figure,” Weintraub said.

The sisters were among 11 girls found living in Kaplan’s home when he was arrested in June. According to the original criminal complaint, Kaplan admitted to police that he fathered the two youngest children – now 3 and 10 months – with the oldest sister, who is now 18, according to CBS Philly. He began fathering the children with her when she was 14, police say.

The oldest girl told police the six sisters were Kaplan’s wives, and he told them he learned in dreams that the arrangement was was what God wanted, according to an affidavit released Monday. The DA said Kaplan “groomed” the girls to believe he was a prophet of God, reported KYW Newsradio reporter Jim Melwert via Twitter. 

Kaplan “obviously groomed these children for a long time for a very explicit and horrible purpose,” Weintraub said.

daniel-stoltzfus-savilla-stoltzfus.jpg

Mugshots show Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus.

Lower Southampton Police Department via CBS Philadelphia

Kaplan, 51, was already facing statutory sexual assault and related charges in the alleged abuse of the oldest girl. He’s now facing 15 new charges, most of which are felonies, KYW reports.

Police say the teen’s father, Daniel Stoltzfus, told them he and his wife Savilla “gave” their oldest daughter to Kaplan after he financially helped the couple, and sent her to live with him in Feasterville from their home in Lancaster County. The Stoltzfuses are also reportedly the parents of nine other girls found in the home. The couple is charged with child endangerment.

The Stoltzfuses reportedly say they say they never intended the relationship between Kaplan and their daughter to be sexual.

The girls ranged in age from 6 years old to 18 years old during the time of abuse, which prosecutors reportedly say happened over the course of eight years. The abuse allegedly began in the girls’ parents’ home in Lancaster County, where Kaplan had his own bedroom, according to CBS Philly. 

It allegedly continued in Kaplan’s home, but it wasn’t clear when the other girls moved in with him. Investigators say they have come forward saying Kaplan also had sex with them, according to the station.

Kaplan has been in the Bucks County jail on $1 million bail, and an additional $1 million cash bail was added after the new charges were filed. He was arraigned by video.

Kaplan and the girls’ parents were supposed to go on trial next week, but the proceedings have been canceled, according to online court documents. 

Kaplan’s attorney, Ryan Hyde, said Monday he has not seen the complaint and couldn’t yet comment.