DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — The fate of a Bucks County man accused of sexually assaulting six young Amish girls over several years, fathering two children by one of them, is now in the hands of a jury.
Closing arguments were delivered Monday morning in the trial of 52-year-old Lee Kaplan, who is charged with several counts of child rape, indecent assault and related offenses, after the victims’ parents allegedly “gifted” the children to him in return for financial help.
Defense attorney Ryan Hyde was first to address the panel of nine men and three women, He tried to chip away at the girls’ testimony by playing a taped conversation about the meaning of sexual intercourse between the girls and their mother.
Hyde told the jury that this was a botched investigation from the beginning, suggesting that detectives and the girls’ mother coached them into saying they were assaulted.
“I don’t think they would intentionally do that,” he said, “but I think they didn’t take the steps that they needed to protect the case from that.”
Prosecutor Kate Kohler rejected the idea.
“It was completely insulting. To suggest that members of law enforcement or a prosecutor would put their career and reputation on the line for one case is absurd,” she said. “It was suggestive of criminal conduct that obviously nobody in this case has committed.”
Kohler pointed to what she called overwhelming evidence of Kaplan’s guilt, like him fathering two children by one of the girls, and terminology the girls used to describe the alleged assaults, words like “underparts” and “nakedness.”
She asked the jury to consider how difficult it was for each of the young victims to get up on the stand and describe intimate details of what happened in front of strangers and a man they adored and respected.
“It was clear they love him. It was clear they didn’t want to get him in trouble,” Kohler said. “But they didn’t lie.”
Kohler also presented a slide show with each girl’s picture next to outlined details of the alleged assaults. She told the jury that Kaplan manipulated and brainwashed the victims, putting the fear of God in their heads if they didn’t do what he said.
When closing arguments were finished, the judge read the jurors deliberation instructions, telling them to look at each count on its own.
The jury will now decide which side to believe.