"Plea deal offered in abduction of Amish girls" Associated Press April 08, 2015
ALBANY, N.Y. — A couple accused of kidnapping two Amish girls from a northern New York produce stand and sexually exploiting them has been offered a possible plea agreement that a prosecutor says could settle state and federal cases and would spare the girls, and potentially other victims, from testifying in court.
Stephen Howells and girlfriend Nicole Vaisey were charged last summer with sexually exploiting the Amish girls and other children. Their federal trial has been reset for July 6 on charges they coerced minors to make pornographic videos. They face kidnapping charges in state court.
St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain said Tuesday that the defendants were advised of the strength of the evidence and were offered an agreement to plead guilty in both cases. Guilty pleas would mean victims would not have to testify, including others not publicly known, which Rain said is one of her biggest concerns. She declined to disclose the terms offered.
The 7- and 12-year-old Amish girls were abducted Aug. 13 from their family farm roadside stand in rural Oswegatchie, near the Canadian border. The abduction touched off a massive search in the community of about 4,000 people. Authorities say the girls were shackled and sexually abused before being released the next day.
The latest federal indictment, based on computer videos taken from the couple’s rural home in Hermon, where authorities say the Amish girls were held, listed six victims.
‘‘Everyone is working toward finding a way of resolving this matter,’’ said Vaisey’s attorney, Bradford Riendeau.
Riendeau has maintained that Howells, then 39, dominated 25-year-old Vaisey in a sort of master-slave relationship.
Also see: Amish Abduction Arraignment