Girls testify about sex abuse by man who got them as 'gift'

Savilla Stoltzfus, 43, who pleaded guilty along with her husband to "gifting" some of their daughters to 52-year-old Lee Kaplan, testified at Kaplan's trial on Wednesday that she and her daughters wanted to be with him, her attorney, Craig Penglase, tells PEOPLE.

The girls' parents, Savilla and Daniel Stoltzfus, got financial help from Kaplan when they fell on hard times after breaking from their Amish faith, according to authorities and interviews with relatives and neighbors. She said she believed that's what husbands and wives do.

They described how Kaplan had sex with them. She said she gave birth to the first of two daughters when she was 14.

In cross-examination, Savilla Stoltzfus said her relationship with Kaplan stemmed in part from her strained marriage to Daniel Stoltzfus.

During hear almost two-hour testimony on Wednesday, Savilla, who was found living with her daughters and Kaplan in his Feasterville home in June of 2016, said she and six of her daughters dreamt of becoming Kaplan's wives, Penglase says.

The nine-year-old told the jury she likes to play on a sliding board, ride her bike, and play the clarinet and the violin.

Deputy District Attorney Kate Kohler argued in her opening statement Kaplan "brainwashed" the family, casting himself as a prophet, as he sought "power, manipulation and control".

The trial continues on Thursday.

"I always trusted him that whatever goes on is a good thing", the mother said.

"He was running them out of the darkness that was their lives beforehand", he said.

Hyde told jurors that the family saw Kaplan had money and saw a better life for their daughters, reports CBS Philly.

On cross examination, the defense points out the allegations of sexual misconduct didn't come out until after the children met with their mother several months after her arrest.

  • Larry Hoffman