Two parents from Pennsylvania have been sentenced to prison for up to seven years for “gifting” their six underage daughters to a man who claimed to be “prophet of God.”
Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus unlawfully gave their young children to Lee Kaplan, who claimed to speak for God, after they left their Amish community. Kaplan was convicted just last month on 17 counts of child sex abuse for molesting and then “marrying” the six sisters.
A neighbor told CNN all about Kaplan, who was found living with 12 females (many of whom were underage) last year.
“My gut was telling me to confirm what I was thinking. I just knew. There was no reason why this older, significantly older man, any man, regardless of what they look like, would have this amount of children, all in blue dresses, never outside the house regularly, looking so scared… I knew that something wasn’t right.”
The neighbor’s gut was right, and now authorities have the evidence to prove it. They discovered that Kaplan met Daniel Stoltzfus at an auction in 2002 and laid the groundwork for a massive long con to convince the poor family he was speaking on behalf of their God.
Kaplan promised the family financial help, moved in with them, and ultimately took their six daughters as his brides. The eldest daughter had two children by Kaplan, including one that was conceived when she was just 14.
Clearly Kaplan was the mastermind behind this immoral operation, but the girls’ parents had to be held accountable as well. They put their daughters in direct danger and allowed this man to take advantage of them, all because of money and misplaced faith.
An attorney for Savilla Stoltzfus, William Craig Penglase, acknowledged this and expressed disappointment that she didn’t get a reduced sentence for cooperating with the prosecutors who brought charges against Kaplan.
“Individually, her sentence is completely appropriate… I understand the court’s outrage at their behavior… The struggle I’m having is she got no benefit for handing the government Lee Kaplan on a silver platter… She was the beginning, middle and end of the government’s case, and she got nothing back for it.”
Counsel for Daniel Stoltzfus said the father chose not to present any mitigating evidence at trial.
“He did want to take accountability… He understood the severity of the charges, and how the court had to view them… It’s really tough to make any sense out of what happened.”
The important thing here is that these girls are getting justice. Not just for the behavior of the man whom they were forced to marry, but also for the actions of the parents who allowed it to happen. It’s the silver lining in an otherwise tragic story.