A recording of the mother who “gifted” her daughters as “wives” to Lee Kaplan reveals that she instructed the girls to tell the truth about the sexual relations that occurred between them and Kaplan, reports Philly.
Kaplan is on trial for sexually abusing the six girls.
The girls testified in court last week about the sexual contact between them and Kaplan, which had been going on since the girls were very young — with one being only 7 years old when the abuse started.
In a recorded conversation with her daughters played in court, Savilla Stoltzfus advised them to tell the whole story and said that “the truth should be told,” since it was going to come out regardless if the girls spoke up or not.
Stoltzfus and her daughters appear to believe they were only doing what God had intended for them. The mother said on the recording that what Kaplan did with her daughters was justified.
“We understand it was God. We understand it was for a good purpose.”
The family lived with Kaplan for five years until he was arrested last June. The parents, who received financial assistance from Kaplan after they broke away from their Amish faith, said in court that they had “gifted” their daughters to him.
Stoltzfus pleaded guilty in April to child endangerment. Her husband pleaded no contest to the same charges.
It was obvious from the girls’ mental and physical states that they were not properly taken care of during the five years they lived with Kaplan.
Since they were taken from their parents care, the girls have visited the doctor and dentist for the first time.
Three of the girls were found to have Lyme disease for the past five years, and five of the sisters needed teeth removed.
Stacy Roach, a Bucks County Children and Youth supervisor, testified in court that the girls needed instruction on personal hygiene.
“They had to be shown a video of how to wash long hair. It was obvious with the amount of dental work they needed that they probably didn’t brush their teeth.”
The girls are currently in foster care, have been enrolled in cyber school, and have received Social Security numbers and birth certificates.
The recording between the girls and their mother, who hadn’t seen each other for four months, revealed that the sisters didn’t understand much about the world. One sister expressed concern over things that most would find normal, including traditional birthday customs.
“The round cake, the candles… it comes straight out of witchcraft.”
The girls were deprived of contact with anyone outside of the home, which was cramped with the windows covered up. The girls believed, because of Kaplan, that contact with other children attracted evil spirits.
Their mother explained to them during the meeting that the events which took place in their home were considered by society as taboo and repulsive.
“In … our day, there is nothing more vile. Even people drug-abusing, the things they do to themselves, is not as bad as this, in their eyes. But that’s today.”
Kaplan’s attorney, Ryan Hyde, suggested that Stoltzfus only instructed her daughters to reveal the truth to detectives after she had been in prison for months. He believes she may be trying to strike a deal with prosecutors to reduce her sentence if she tells her daughters to be honest in court.
Kate Kohler, deputy district attorney, said “there were no promises made to anybody.”
The family still believes that they were only complying with God’s intentions for them, and can be heard on the recording at one point praying together.
“God almighty, you brought us to this. You know. You’ve been with us all these days. You will make us a shining example to all the people. We thank you for this opportunity… and we continue on the path that you have set us. Amen.”
[Feature photo: Lower Southhampton Police Department]