Savilla Stoltzfus, 43, allegedly told police she “gifted” six of her daughters over to a man because she thought he was doing “God’s work.” Prosecutors contend the Pennsylvania man was sexually abusing the girls.
Stoltzfus appeared Wednesday for the first day of Lee Kaplan’s trial. Kaplan, who is 52 years old, allegedly took in Stoltzfus and six of her daughters and treated them as his wives.
Stoltzfus, her husband, and her 14 kids left their Amish community in 2009 after being evicted from their home. They eventually ended up living at a campsite. That’s when Kaplan stepped in and helped the family financially. As a sign of appreciation, the Stoltzfus’ gifted him their then nine-year-old daughter, intending for her to be his future wife, according to reports.
The family began to consider Kaplan as a prophet of God, and so they continued gifting him more of their children.
Stoltzfus admits she was surprised when her eldest daughter became pregnant in 2013, when she was only 14 years old. Stoltzfus testified that her daughter was “a little shaken,” but she was overall happy and “accepted it.”
At one point, six of the Stoltzfus’ daughters became wives to Kaplan, and eventually so did Savilla Stoltzfus herself. The Stoltzfus’ lived in a home with Kaplan, along with their children and grandchildren.
In her testimony, Stoltzfus said, “As we all well know and understand, we’re familiar with [Kaplan] and his ways, and we understand that he’s always motivated to follow the leading of God.” According to Stoltzfus, Kaplan assured the family it was “the will of God” that he have “relationships” with the six daughters.
The eldest daughter, now 19, testified Wednesday that Kaplan began molesting her when she was 10 years old, leading to intercourse when she was only 12. She now has a three-year-old and a 10-month-old, fathered by Kaplan.
Charged with six counts of rape and sexual assault, Kaplan is being defended by attorney Ryan Hyde, who said the Stoltzfus are opportunists, and that there was no rape or molestation. He says, “differences in culture is what this case is about,” and suggests his client had good intentions.
According to the prosecution, Kaplan “brainwashed” the family for his own “horrible purpose.” Deputy District Attorney Kate Kohler said, “Six children became his victims. Six children became his sex toys.”
Savilla Stoltzfus pleaded guilty to child endangerment charges in April. She will be sentenced after Kaplan’s trial.
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