The mother of six girls a Pennsylvania man is accused of having sexually assaulted, said she knew about the sexual activity but thought it "could be a good thing."
Lee Donald Kaplan, 52, is on trial for numerous charges of rape and sexual assault.
Police arrested Kaplan in 2016 at his home in Feasterville, about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia, after receiving a complaint about the safety of children in the home according to CBS News. When police arrived, they found 11 girls living with the man. Kaplan allegedly told police that he fathered the two youngest children – a 3-year-old and a 10-month-old – with the oldest girl of the house, who was 18, according to CBS Philly.
The girls' father told police that he and his wife "gifted" their daughters to Kaplan after Kaplan financially helped out the couple. During testimony on Wednesday, the girls' 43-year-old mother said that her family viewed Kaplan as a prophet.
The two older girls were sent to live with Kaplan in 2009 when the family had money issues. The mother said the couple had promised Kaplan that another daughter, then 9, would be his wife when she was older, according to Lancaster Online. According to that report, the mother testified she was "a little shaken" when she found out in 2013 that her oldest daughter, who was 14 at the time, was pregnant with Kaplan's baby. But, she claimed she saw her daughter loved Kaplan and "accepted it as the way it is."
Kaplan eventually made it clear he would take all six of the oldest girls as "wives," the mother testified, according to Philly.com. The mother said she also eventually moved in with Kaplan as one of his wives. The mom testified when she saw Kaplan taking her daughters to bed, she thought he was teaching them how to live in the outside world and that it was meant to be.
"I always trusted him that whatever goes on is a good thing," the mother said.
Apparently, the mother sometimes became jealous of her daughters because Kaplan was forcing her to compete with them for his affection, reported Philly.com.
Deputy District Attorney Kate Kohler stated that Kaplan "brainwashed" the family seeking "power, manipulation and control."
"Six children became his victims. Six children became his sex toys," Kohler said Wednesday.
Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub stated in the past that Kaplan groomed the children to believe he was a prophet "for a horrible purpose."
"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 parents were convicted of child endangerment and are awaiting sentencing. The parents have not been identified to protect the identities of the girls.
Kaplan’s attorney argued that the couple fabricated the rape and molestation allegations when they realized they could be in legal trouble and may lose their children.
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