A mother of six girls has testified at the trial of Lee Kaplan – a man who took advantage of a family who had just broken away from their Amish town, helped them financially, and then took advantage of them by starting a cult.
The mother said that her six daughters were ‘gifted’ to the man to use as ‘wives’. Kaplan did father two children, both girls, with the oldest of the daughters, who was 18 at the time.
Kaplan ‘brainwashed’ Savilla Stoltzfus and her family, casting himself as a prophet, and the family, down on their financial luck, believed him. He used this as a power move and was able to get himself six underage girls to abuse.
The Daily Mail reports:
Police say the girls’ father, Daniel Stoltzfus, told them he and his wife ‘gifted’ one of their daughters to Kaplan after he financially helped the couple.
Defense attorney Ryan Hyde argued that Kaplan was married to the oldest daughter in the family’s eyes and the other children loved him. He denied Kaplan abused the younger girls.
‘He was advancing their lives,’ Hyde said, contending that the family took advantage of Kaplan’s generosity.
‘He was running them out of the darkness that was their lives beforehand.’
The mother of the girls, who along with her husband is awaiting sentencing on child endangerment convictions, said she knew about the sexual contact but believed it stemmed from Kaplan’s dreams that were communications from God.
‘I could see that it could be a good thing,’ she testified. ‘I always trusted him that whatever goes on is a good thing.’
She later said she had no regrets because ‘we had a good life’.
She also told jurors she thought of Kaplan as an authority figure and discipline in his home was ‘understood as a way of life’.
‘As we all well know and understand, we’re familiar with him and his ways, and we understand that he’s always motivated to follow the leading of God,’ she said.
‘We understood that…it was the right thing to do or in God’s leading.’
Although it was the oldest daughter who became pregnant, it was her younger sister who originally was offered in marriage to Kaplan, Stoltzfus testified.
The oldest, now 19, said she loves and misses Kaplan, and that she preferred living in his home to her parents’, which was full of her siblings.
‘I thought it was a good place for me,’ she said Wednesday afternoon according to Philly.com.
‘I think it turned out really well.’