Parents enter pleas in child ‘gifting’ case

Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus (submitted)

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – A Lancaster County couple accused of giving their children to a man charged with sexually assaulting them has entered pleas to child endangerment charges.

Savilla Stoltzfus, 43, of Quarryville, pleaded guilty Thursday to a third-degree felony count of endangering the welfare of a child. Her husband, 44-year-old Daniel Stoltzfus, pleaded no contest to the same charge, the Bucks County district attorney’s office said.

Prosecutors say the couple gave their eldest daughter to a Feasterville man, 52-year-old Lee Kaplan, when she was 14 years old. Kaplan is accused of raping the girl repeatedly over several years, causing her to give birth to two children.

Lee Kaplan

Kaplan was arrested in June 2016 after police and child services workers were called to his home to investigate. The girl, then 18, was living with Kaplan and her mother, her two children, and her eight younger sisters.

Daniel Stoltzfus told police they gave the girl to Kaplan because he helped them out of “financial ruin.” He told investigators they did it after “researching the legality of it on the internet,” according to court documents.

Kaplan was charged with additional crimes in October, when prosecutors accused him of sexually assaulting five other girls in the home.

A 17-year-old girl told investigators she moved into Kaplan’s home in 2012 and their marriage was “consummated” when she was 14. Authorities said Kaplan began sexually abusing the other girls when they were 11, 10, 8, and 6 years old.

Prosecutors say Kaplan befriended the family in Lancaster County and steered them away from the Amish way of life. In return for his financial help, they said he was “gifted” some of the couple’s daughters, called the girls his wives, and groomed them to believe he was a “religious, cult-like figure.”

According to facts read in court today, Daniel Stoltzfus also gave his wife to Kaplan in hopes that they would have children and “strengthen” the Stoltzfus bloodlines.

The couple will be sentenced after Kaplan’s trial, which is scheduled to begin May 30. The district attorney’s office said the crimes are punishable by sentences of up to seven years in prison and a fine of $15,000, but guidelines call for much less severe punishments.

At a preliminary hearing in November, his attorney said Kaplan maintains the mother of his children is his wife and he didn’t touch the others.

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