DOYLESTOWN — The Quarryville parents accused of allowing six daughters to be raped or sexually assaulted by a Feasterville man received the harshest possible sentence Wednesday from a Bucks County judge.
Daniel Stoltzfus, 44, who pleaded no contest to child endangerment, was sentenced to 3½ to 7 years in prison by Judge Jeffrey L. Finley at Bucks County Courthouse. His wife, Savilla, 43, was sentenced to three to seven years.
Both were the maximum sentences allowed by law, although the judge said Savilla Stoltzfus is eligible for parole six months sooner than her husband because she cooperated with authorities.
A three- to 12-month sentence is standard for cases without mitigating or aggravating factors.
Lee Kaplan, 52, of 428 Old Street Road, Feasterville, was convicted of three counts of rape of a child, four counts of statutory sexual assault, seven counts of indecent assault and three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse involving the six underage sisters he abused over several years.
He will be sentenced Sept. 20, court records show. With many of the charges carrying 20- to 40-year maximum sentences, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
In a brief statement Wednesday to the judge, Daniel Stoltzfus did not apologize for giving his daughters to Kaplan.
“I regret having put my children into what they’ve been through this past year, and I wish to reconnect with my children,” he said.
Savilla Stoltzfus, who was sentenced in a separate hearing immediately following her husband’s, asked for forgiveness for putting her children at risk, but said that, when Kaplan came into her life, “I observed that God was with him.”
In both cases, the parents when paroled will be required to undergo a mental health evaluation, including psychiatric and psychological assessments, a risk of abuse assessment and intelligence test before being reunited with their children. Also, the parents will be required to participate in individual and family counseling.
The couple will be credited for their sentence from June 16, 2016, when they were first incarcerated.
One of their daughters read a statement on behalf of her and her sisters pleading for a light sentence.
“We love our parents very dearly,” she said. “It is very hard for us to be separated from them for this long. It certainly will be a lot harder if the separation continues.”
A long sentence punishes the children as much as the parents, she said. She also lauded her parents who “supported us all our lives.”
“Do not increase their misery,” she said. “Do not increase our misery.”
More than two dozen members of the Quarryville area Amish community, to which the family previously belonged, filled three rows of the gallery to hear sentencing.
Daniel Stoltzfus’ sentencing
Attorney Timothy Barton, representing Daniel Stoltzfus, acknowledged the seriousness of the case but said the father took responsibility with his plea.
“He realizes that he failed as a parent and a father, to the great detriment of his children,” he said, calling the man’s actions “misguided.”
Deputy District Attorney Mary Kate Kohler disagreed, noting that Stoltzfus pleaded no contest rather than guilty.
He knew “what was going on in that house,” she said, and “the situation (he) put his children into is unspeakable.” His actions and teachings “normalized” Kaplan’s behavior for his young, impressionable children, she said.
Finley found no mitigating factors in the case.
“We speak in this case of an offense against children, as if children were one unified group,” he said. “That’s not the case. ... This was an offense against 11 different individuals, each child being a life unto themselves.”
Stoltzfus forced his daughters into “a life of sex slaves,” the judge said.
“As hard as I have tried, as hard as I have tried to look at this from your shoes, your conduct is unimaginable,” Finley said. “It’s not acceptable in this civilization. For whatever sick purpose, whether or not you felt under the power, in a trance-like state, of Kaplan, you knowingly allowed your family, your children, your daughters, to move into this person’s home ... sharing his bed upon his promise that he would marry them someday.”
Finley called his actions “horrific” and said the state Legislature could not have imagined such crimes when it laid out the standards for sentencing.
“It would be higher, if I had the authority to do so,” he said.
Stoltzfus was also ordered to pay the costs of prosecution.
Savilla Stoltzfus’ sentencing
William Penglase, representing Savilla Stoltzfus, said her decision to cooperate with authorities was instrumental in building the commonwealth’s case against her, her husband and Kaplan.
Until she convinced the daughters to tell their stories, Penglase said, prosecutors weren’t aware more than one daughter was being abused.
After the hearing, Penglase said the judge gave a “well-considered, well-reasoned decision,” but said he is “struggling” with the lack of consideration for Savilla’s cooperation.
Even so, he said, “she does not regret coming forward.”
Kohler, too, acknowledged that the mother is in a different position than the father in this case. However, in an interview after the hearing, she applauded the judge’s decision.
“These cases are always hard,” she said — particularly for “the victims, the children.”
However, she said, Savilla Stoltzfus’s decision to cooperate has to be balanced against the years she allowed her children to be abused.
“Daniel and Savilla both committed heinous acts against their children by allowing this to happen,” Kohler said. “They shouldn’t be around their children right now. The children need time to heal.”
Finley repeated many of the sentiments stated during Daniel’s sentencing.
“You exchanged a certain level of comfort for the intellectual, mental, emotional and sexual well-being of your children,” he told her.
“You were there. ... You watched day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year as Kaplan took your daughters by the hand, led them into his bedroom, locked the door” and engaged in sexual activities that she later admitted made her jealous of her own daughters.
Children found in 2016
Nine of the Stoltzfuses’ daughters, along with two grandchildren fathered by Kaplan on the oldest daughter, were found on Kaplan's property on June 16, 2016. He was subsequently convicted of sexually abusing six of the daughters, the youngest being 7 years old when the abuse began.
Kaplan had “brainwashed” the family into believing he he was a prophet from God who could interpret dreams, according to statements made at trial.
The girls testified about the sexual abuse by Kaplan, but also said they had love and affection for him.
The couple, who left the Amish Faith in 2003, have 14 children.
The underage children are in the care of Bucks County Children and Youth until a custody decision can be made by Bucks County Judge Robert Mellon.
Lee Kaplan is being held at Bucks County Prison.