Lee Kaplan was found guilty of sexually abusing his six “sister wives,” who were reportedly underage when they were forced into the unusual relationship. On Tuesday, the 55-year-old man, who is a self-proclaimed profit, was convicted of 17 criminal counts, including sexual intercourse with a minor, indecent assault, and rape of a child. According to reports, the girls were “gifted” to the older man by their parents.
Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus are a former Amish couple who left their church and community in 2003.
As reported by Penn Live, Daniel Stoltzfus was a well-respected member of the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Amish community. Although he was described as a kind man, who was a hard-working father, husband, and son, family and friends said he “changed” after a tragic accident involving his 14-month old son.
In 2001, Daniel accidentally struck and killed his toddler son with a forklift. According to reports, the tragedy left Stoltzfus in a deep depression and led him to question his faith and Amish beliefs. Relatives confirmed Daniel and Savilla were also experiencing financial difficulties and were in danger of losing the family farm.
Two years after the tragic death of his son, Daniel Stoltzfus met Lee Kaplan at a farm equipment sale.
Relatives said the two men quickly formed a strong friendship. Within weeks, Lee convinced Daniel that he was a prophet of God who was blessed with the gift of interpreting dreams and telling the future. Kaplan also offered the Stoltzfus emotional and financial support, which they desperately needed.
Within months, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus made the decision to leave their church and community and move in with Lee Kaplan. Per Amish tradition, the couple was ultimately excommunicated and forbidden contact with their family and friends.
In an attempt to repay him for his generosity, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus gave their eldest daughter to Lee Kaplan as a gift. At the age of 14, she gave birth to the first of Lee’s two children.
According to reports, Daniel and Savilla ultimately gifted Kaplan with six of their daughters — who became the older man’s “sister wives.” Although the marriages were not legal, authorities said the girls referred to Lee as their husband. During police interviews, the girls also revealed that they were sexually abused.
Neighbor Denise Horst said she and her daughter became suspicious of the family when she “spotted several young girls, all dressed in Amish clothing, scampering across the 51-year-old man’s lawn.” As reported by People, Horst was specifically concerned because one of the girls appeared to be pregnant.
In June 2016, authorities raided the home Lee Kaplan shared with Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus. Inside, they discovered 11 girls between the ages of 18 and 6-months-old. Subsequent interviews revealed six of the girls served as Kaplan’s sister wives, and eldest had given birth to two of the man’s children.
Lee Kaplan was subsequently arrested and charged with a total of 17 criminal counts involving the sexual assault of minors. Daniel Stoltzfus was arrested and charged with child endangerment and conspiracy of statutory sexual assault. Savilla Stoltzfus was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
— Bucks Co DA’s Office (@BucksDa) June 5, 2017
Authorities said the 11 children, including the six sister wives, seemed to be content with their unusual lifestyle. However, as they were clearly not old enough to consent to marriage or a sexual relationship, they were removed from the home and are currently being held in protective custody.
In April, Daniel Stoltzfus pleaded no contest to child endangerment, and Savilla Stoltzfus pleaded guilty to the same charge. Neither of the parents has been sentenced at this time.
I’m here in Bucks Co. waiting for verdict in the Lee Kaplan child ‘gifting’ case. Jurors started deliberating Monday pic.twitter.com/ac6hCi6GDZ
— Christine Vendel (@ChristineVendel) June 6, 2017
On Tuesday, a jury found Lee Kaplan guilty of 17 charges associated with the sexual abuse of his underage sister wives. He is now facing a sentence of life in prison.
[Featured Image by NBC Philadelphia]