true crime

Parents “gifted” their 14-year-old daughter to a 51-year-old man who helped them with their financial difficulties.

A softly spoken 18-year-old girl, who was “gifted” to a 51-year-old man when she was just 14, has told a courtroom how she still cares and trusts for the man she considers her ‘spouse’.

Dressed in a long, puffy blue dress dotted with flowers and polka-dots the young girl has told of her life, along side 11 other children in the home of the man to whom she was ‘given’ as a settlement for a financial payment by her parents.

The girls' parents who allegedly used her to settle a debt. Via CNN.

The girl has appeared as a witness at a preliminary hearing in Pennsylvania, in the US, for the man,  Lee Kaplan, 33 years her senior and her parents, Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus who allegedly came to the arrangement with Kaplan where he took their daughter as his sexual ‘partner’ in return for helping them out with a debt.

Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus, who are former members of the Amish community, faced financial difficulties at the time they ‘gifted’ him their 14-year-old and "researched the legality of (the deal) on the Internet," according to a police affidavit.

“Stoltzfus stated that his daughter … was ‘gifted’ to Lee Kaplan in thanks for helping his family out of financial ruin,” the affidavit continues.

“Lee Kaplan had sexual relations with her. During the course of those relations, a three-year-old and a six-month-old child were born. Mr. Kaplan had her living there as some sort of repayment for a financial situation,” Lt. John Krimmel with the Lower Southampton Township Police Department told Fox 6 News.

The home of Lee Kaplan. Via Fox News.

Yesterday after a 75-minute hearing, District Judge John I. Waltman ordered that Kaplan and the girl’s parents be held for trial in the sexual-abuse case.

Police had been alerted to the home of Kaplan after a neighbour who felt something wasn’t right called them.

The neighbour, Jen Betz said it took years of speculation but she finally reached breaking point after seeing the faces of around a dozen young children peering out through gaps in the windows.

“They’re so sad and fearful every time I see them. That’s what made me call,” Betz told CNN.

The home, with its boarded windows and high weeds, had drawn her attention and she repeatedly told her husband “something isn’t right.

When police entered they found 11 terrified children and the young girl, now aged 18.

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“They were living in the basement, they were hiding in the chicken coop,” said Robert Hoopes, Lower Southampton’s director of public safety.

The girl was the mother of two of the children.

The teenager said that her parents knew that Kaplan had gotten her pregnant and her mother helped deliver one of the children, according to PennLive.com.

After police raided the home the Stoltzfuses said to be they were parents of the 9 remaining girls – all who lived with Kaplan.

The children did not attend school and according to Philly.com had never been seen by a doctor.

The girls did not attend school. Via IStock.

While on the stand, the girl said she had shared Kaplan’s bed since she moved to his home at 14, she said that her parents knew of her sexual relationship and that at some point after the birth of her second child her mother had also moved into the small home.

The girls are said to have been kept inside most of the time, on the odd occasion, CNN reports Kaplan took them to Lenny's Hot Dogs, a restaurant near their home.

Owner Wayne Knapp said Kaplan was "spiritual" and a "very religious man" who often quoted the bible. Kaplan told him he was home-schooling the girls, saying he wanted to keep them away from the "evils of the world."

The family left the Amish community a decade ago. Image via IStock.

But sadly it seems evil may have been a lot closer.

Assistant District Attorney Kate Kohler told the court "Mr. Stoltzfus gave his 14-year-old daughter to his 47-year-old business partner."

“You do not give your daughter to a man that's not in your family and not expect them to have a sexual relationship."

Kaplan is facing several charges including statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, and corruption of a minor and unlawful endangerment. Image via CNN.

All three will stand trial.

Kaplan is facing several charges including statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, and corruption of a minor and unlawful endangerment. Daniel Stoltzfus is facing felony conspiracy and child endangerment charges while Savilla Stoltzfus is facing a felony child endangerment charge.

Daniel Stoltzfus facing an additional charge of conspiracy in his daughter's alleged sexual assault after prosecutors contended he made the agreement to 'gift' his daughter to his business partner to avoid financial ruin.

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