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Man found guilty of sex assaults in 'gifted' girls case

Posted at 11:26 PM, Jun 06, 2017

A Pennsylvania man was convicted Tuesday of sexually assaulting six young sisters married off by their parents in return for financial support. 

Lee Kaplan, 51, was found guilty on 17 charges including child rape, statutory sexual assault, and indecent assault, the Bucks County district attorney said.

The verdict came almost a year after police said they found Kaplan living with 12 females at his Feasterville home, including an 18-year-old who prosecutors said was "gifted" to him after he provided financial support for her parents.

According to the criminal complaint, Kaplan fathered two children with the 18-year-old, who was just 14 when her first child was conceived.

Kaplan's attorney, Ryan Hyde, said his client maintains his innocence. 

"My client has been saying he's innocent since the first day I talked to him. That's still the case. I don't think you've heard the last of this case," Hyde said.

'I knew that something wasn't right'

The parents of the 18-year-old, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, entered pleas to felony child endangerment charges in April. Savilla Stoltzfus, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of endangering the welfare of children and Daniel Stoltzfus, 44, pleaded no contest to the same charge. Both await sentencing.

The Stoltzfuses, formerly members of the Amish community, were supported financially by Kaplan, according to the Bucks County Prosecutor's Office. In return the pair "gifted" him six of their daughters. 

Neighbor Jen Betz told CNN she had contacted authorities multiple times about Kaplan.

"My gut was telling me to confirm what I was thinking. I just knew. There was no reason why this older, significantly older man, any man, regardless of what they look like, would have this amount of children, all in blue dresses, never outside the house regularly, looking so scared," she said.

"I knew that something wasn't right."

Kaplan was rarely seen out and about with the girls or with the Stoltzfuses, according to neighbors.

In their pleas, the Stoltzfuses acknowledged that they knew Kaplan was having sex with their eldest daughter. Daniel Stoltzfus testified that he had also "gifted" his wife to Kaplan "in hopes of strengthening the Stoltzfus bloodlines," according to the prosecutor's office. 

Kaplan will be sentenced at a later date.