Lawyer Defends Amish Mom Accused of Giving 14-Year-Old Daughter to Man: This Is About ‘Difference in Culture’

Lawyer Defends Amish Mom Accused of 'Gifting' Teen Daughter

Daniel and Savilla Stoltzfus
The attorney for Savilla Stoltzfus, the Pennsylvania woman charged with endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly «gifting» her then-14-year-old daughter to a man who allegedly impregnated her twice, tells PEOPLE his client had good intentions and that «differences in culture is what this case is about.»

Stoltzfus and her husband, Daniel, who are Amish, promised their daughter’s hand in marriage to Lee Kaplan, 51, Savilla’s attorney, Craig Penglase, tells PEOPLE exclusively.

Of such a practice, Penglase says, «That happens in cultures all over the world.»

Penglase adds, «Everything [Savilla] did she was for her family, and what she did in this case was what she thought was right…. It may have been misguided, it may have been weird to you and me, but that was her belief.»

Kaplan’s arrest affidavit alleges the Stoltzfuses «gifted» their daughter to Kaplan in exchange for financial benefits, but Penglase says that language has been misconstrued. He compared the agreement the couple had with Kaplan to the common wedding ceremonial tradition of the bride’s father giving his daughter away to the groom.

«That’s what [the Stoltzfuses] meant when they said that to the police,» Penglase says. «It’s an interpretation problem. It’s a cultural interpretation problem.»

Kaplan of Feasterville, is charged with sexual assault and related charges. Daniel Stoltzfus faces conspiracy to commit sexual assault and child endangerment.The cases of the Stoltzfuses and Kaplan will all go to trial, a judge ruled at a Tuesday hearing.

The alleged victim, now 18, testified at Tuesday’s hearing that she and her nine sisters lived in Kaplan’s home.



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