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Pair accused of gifting daughters to older man enter pleas

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A couple accused of gifting their daughters to a cult-like figure who considered them wives has pleaded to child endangerment charges.

Savilla and Daniel Stoltzfus got financial help from Lee Kaplan when they fell on hard times after breaking from their Amish faith, according to authorities and interviews with relatives and neighbors.

Police ultimately found the family, including the couple’s nine daughters and two grandchildren, living with Kaplan when a neighbor’s tip led them to search his Philadelphia-area home last June. Authorities later charged him with sexually assaulting six of the girls.

One daughter had two children with Kaplan after the parents sent her to live with Kaplan when she was 14. Kaplan is now 52.

Savilla Stoltzfus, 43, pleaded guilty Thursday, and her 44-year-old husband, David, entered a no-contest plea, acknowledging that prosecutors had enough evidence to support the charges.

Kaplan’s trial is set for May in Bucks County. He faces a long list of rape and sexual assault charges. His lawyer has said that he considered the daughter who bore his children his wife and that he denied sexual misconduct with the other girls.

Savilla Stoltzfus was also considered one of his wives, authorities said.

Neighbors have described the couple as caring and hard-working until a 14-month-old son was killed in a farm accident in 2001. The couple later broke from their Amish church as they became closer with Kaplan, who appeared to have a cult-like influence over them, they said. The break led to financial problems when an Amish bank revoked the family’s $300,000 business loan, they said.

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