Closing arguments slated in 'gifted' girl abuse trial

- Closing arguments are scheduled Monday in the trial of a Bucks County man accused of having sexually assaulted six girls in the same family, fathering two children by one of them.

   The prosecution and defense rested their cases Friday in the trial of Lee Donald Kaplan, 52, on numerous charges of rape of a child, statutory sexual assault and more. 
 
   Police found the family, including the couple's nine daughters and two grandchildren, living with Kaplan when a neighbor's tip led them to search his Feasterville home last year. Authorities allege that the couple "gifted" the oldest girl to him because he helped them financially.
 
   Deputy District Attorney Kate Kohler argued that Kaplan "brainwashed" the woman and her family, casting himself as a prophet, as he sought "power, manipulation and control." She said "six children became his sex toys." The children's parents are awaiting sentencing on child endangerment convictions.
 
   Several girls testified Thursday that Kaplan had sex with them and they considered him to be their husband. A 9-year-old testified that Kaplan began molesting her when she was 7 and the defendant told her not to tell anyone. The girls' mother testified that she knew about the sexual activity but believed "it could be a good thing."
 
   Defense attorney Ryan Hyde, however, said Kaplan was married to the oldest daughter in the family's eyes and the other children loved him. He denied Kaplan had abused the younger girls and has characterized the family as taking advantage of his generosity. 
 
   Hyde said the younger girls initially denied any sexual activity with Kaplan but changed their stories after a meeting with their mother in October. He said he believes an audio recording of that meeting played in court shows an "influence" by prosecutors, and he believes their mother was offered a deal in exchange for evidence against Kaplan. 
 
   "As many times as they can tell you `just tell the truth,' I think that was said with a wink," Hyde said. Kohler, however, said the audiotape speaks for itself and there were no promises made to anybody in the case.
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