A 52-year-old Pennsylvania man who was found living with 11 girls – six of whom described themselves as his “wives” – was convicted Tuesday of multiple sex charges, PEOPLE confirms.
A Bucks County, Pennsylvania, jury found Lee Kaplan guilty on 17 counts, including including rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault, after nearly nine hours of deliberation following a nearly week-long trial.
In November, Kaplan pleaded not guilty to his charges after he was found in June 2016 living with the girls in his home in Feasterville, Pennsylvania. The girls ranged in age from 3 months to 18 years old. (Authorities previously said he was found with 12 girls and now say it was 11.)
Nine of the girls were sisters, while the other two were Kaplan’s children with the eldest of the nine sisters.The sisters’ parents, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, admitted that years before they had “gifted” the eldest girl, then 14, to Kaplan to be his wife. She and Kaplan have two children together: a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old.
Prosecutors called Kaplan a self-proclaimed prophet and argued that he “brainwashed” the Stoltzfus family. Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub previously told PEOPLE that Kaplan used the family as “a virtual feeding ground of victims.”Last week, Savilla Stoltzfus and six of her daughters testified in court.
One of Kaplan’s six “wives” recounted how his sexual abuse began when she was just 7 years old. Kaplan, who made the girls call him “Lave,” told them it was their duty to have sex with him. “The most shocking part of this entire case was listening to the family testify about their victimization as if it was normal life. They still don’t see themselves as victims,” Craig Penglase, Savilla’s attorney, tells PEOPLE.
“They still love him and they think this was normal behavior. Prosecutors say Kaplan befriended the family in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County in 2003 and he supported them financially.. In return, prosecutors say, Kaplan was “gifted” six of the Stoltzfus’ nine daughters, who were all minors when Kaplan began abusing them.
Shortly after authorities discovered the girls, officials revealed Savilla had been living with her daughters along with Kaplan. Penglase tells PEOPLE the mother of 12 (including three sons) had been at the home ever since she helped deliver her eldest daughter’s first child three years before.
Savilla testified that she had not known Kaplan was having sex with her eldest daughter until the day her daughter gave birth. A few months after, Savilla said in court, she and Kaplan started having sex as well.
In April, Savilla pleaded guilty to one count of endangering the welfare of children, a felony of the third degree. Her 44-year-old husband, Daniel Stoltzfus, pleaded no contest to the same charge. (His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.)
The couple could receive sentences of up to seven years in prison and a fine of $15,000.
Kaplan’s attorney, Ryan Hyde, could not immediately be reached for comment following his conviction, but Hyde told PEOPLE on Monday that Kaplan maintained his innocence.The girls remain in an undisclosed location while their parents await sentencing.