The couple at the center of the sex abuse case involving the alleged rescue of 12 girls from the home of a Pennsylvania man once sued an Amish sect, according to a federal lawsuit obtained by PEOPLE.
Bucks County authorities believe all of the 12 children found at the home of Lee Kaplan, 51, were close relatives of husband and wife Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus. The eldest of the children, 18, had allegedly been “gifted” to Kaplan by Daniel Stoltzfus when she was 14 in exchange for financial support, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPLE. Authorities say Kaplan fathered two children with the girl.
Bucks District attorney David Heckler tells PEOPLE that the Stoltzfuses were Amish but had been “shunned” by the community.
In 2009, the Stoltzfuses sued the Amish Society of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, alleging the sect conspired to ruin his metal fabrication business, DS Fabrication, and force it into foreclosure by drastically hiking interest rates on their mortgage and by threatening employees with being shunned. The suit was dismissed, PEOPLE confirms.
In the suit, the Stoltzfuses alleged that the sect “went so far as to make a police report saying that Daniel Stoltzfus was holding his wife against her will.”
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The suit also alleged that the sect “contacted local authorities and told them that the Plaintiffs were abusing their children by not being able to properly care for them.”
According to Heckler, “The family was shunned by their religious order so they really fell right into the clutches of [Kaplan].”
Authorities say the children in Kaplan’s home ranged from six months old to 18 years old. The eldest allegedly had two children – the 6-month-old and a three-year-old – while the rest of the children were allegedly sisters of the 18-year-old, Heckler says authorities believe.
Heckler tells PEOPLE authorities believe the mother, Savilla Stoltzfus, also lived in the home.
“[Savilla] was in the residence at the time the police arrived [to arrest Kaplan],” Heckler tells PEOPLE. “She was living there with her children and Kaplan and had been … for some period of time.”
Heckler says one police officer believes he saw Savilla at the home two years before, when police responded to a neighbor complaining about Kaplan allegedly burning garbage in his yard.
Kaplan faces statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor and aggravated indecent assault charges.
Daniel Stoltzfus is charged with conspiracy of statutory sexual assault and child endangerment; Savilla Stoltzfus is charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Kaplan and both parents are being held on $1 million bail. They will all appear in court for hearings scheduled for June 28, where they will enter pleas.