Last year, a Bucks County man named Lee Kaplan was arrested for child abuse and sexual assault after a neighbor reported him for having a suspicious number of young girls living in his house, all wearing blue dresses. Lee was convicted on 17 counts of child sexual abuse and rape in early June, and will be sentenced in August. Now Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, a couple who gave six of their daughters to Kaplan in exchange for financial help, are going to prison too.
The Washington Post reports that Stoltzfuses met Kaplan in 2012, at an auction. The couple turned to him for financial help when it looked like they were going to lose their home. In return for his aid, they sent their 13-year-old daughter to live with Kaplan as a “gift.” He claimed she was his “wife” and had two children with her. The first baby was born when she was only 14. Eventually, nine of their girls lived with Kaplan, one as young as ten, and at least six of them said they’d been told they were his “wives” and that he was “a prophet of God.” Kaplan housed them in a basement full of air mattresses.
The Associated Press reports that Daniel Stoltzfus pled no contest to child-endangerment and was sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison, though Philly.com reports that the judge says he would have preferred to make it higher if it were allowed. Savilla Stoltzfus plead guilty and was sentenced to three to seven years. Savilla also eventually went to live with Kaplan, and knew of the sexual abuse but believed it could be “a good thing,” according to the girls’ testimony.
Philly.com shared Bucks County Judge Jeffrey L. Finley’s remarks at the sentencing:
“You may have engaged in some odd relationship with Mr. [Lee] Kaplan on some warped theory it may benefit your family,” Finley told Daniel Stoltzfus. “For whatever sick purpose, whether or not you fell under the power, in a trance-like state, of Kaplan, you knowingly allowed your family, your children, your daughters to move into this person’s home.”
And to Savilla Stoltzfus, whose sentencing immediately followed, he said she had allowed “your daughters to believe it was appropriate for them to become betrothed at ages 10, 11, 12, 14 to a 40-, 50-year-old man and to crawl into his bed.”
The family has ties to the Amish community, and the AP reports that their financial hardship was born when they “broke with their Amish faith.” They have 14 children in total, and there was a delegation of Amish family members led by an older male sibling to the girls in court during the sentencing. The parents may be reunited with their children if they successfully complete court-mandated therapy and mental health evaluations at the end of their sentences.