A former Amish couple who “gifted” their children to a Bucks County man each received up to seven years in prison Wednesday for actions the judge called “unacceptable in any civilized society.”
In front of 30 members of their former Amish community, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus were led away in shackles and handcuffs after the sentencing on child endangerment charges before Judge Jeffrey Finley in Doylestown. They have been in prison since June 16, 2016. Their Amish family and friends have shown up throughout the court proceedings the past year.
Daniel Stoltzfus, 44, who pleaded no contest, must serve 3½ years before he is eligible for parole, while his 43-year-old wife must serve at least three years. They will get credit for time served.
"It would be higher if I had the ability to do so," Finley said to both parents of his sentences for them. "This goes beyond the aggravated sentencing range."
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Finley said he could not comprehend why the Stoltzfus couple decided that giving their nine daughters to Lee Kaplan, of Feasterville, was a good solution to their money troubles.
Daniel Stoltzfus continued to live in Lancaster County during the more than four years while his daughters lived with Kaplan, who fathered two children with the couple’s eldest daughter. She was gifted to him at 14. Savilla Stoltzfus eventually moved in with Kaplan as well.
All told, nine of the Stoltzfus' children, two babies fathered by Kaplan and Savilla Stoltzfus lived in Kaplan's small Cape Cod-style home on Old Street Road.
Kaplan, 52, will be sentenced in September. He was found guilty of numerous counts of sexual abuse charges last month for molesting six of the Stoltzfus' daughters. He faces up to life in prison.
Finley said several times during sentencing that he couldn’t wrap his mind around the idea that parents would treat their children like “what some in the community might call sex slaves.”
Savilla Stoltzfus, in an address to the judge, said after losing her great-grandfather many years ago she had felt "lost" until she and her husband found Kaplan.
"I hope you may forgive me for putting my children at risk," she said.
Daniel Stoltzfus said he regretted "putting his children through what they've gone through this past year."
One of those children testified before the sentences were handed down that she hoped the court would have mercy on her "beloved parents."
Bucks County Deputy District Attorney Kate Kohler said after the hearings that she isn't sure the children understand the gravity of what has happened to them over the last five-plus years.