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Couple 'Planned To Keep Amish Girls As Slaves'
A couple accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing two Amish sisters in upstate New York planned to turn them into slaves, officials have said.
Stephen Howells, 39, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, have been arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree kidnapping.
Vaisey admitted that they lured the girls into the car with an offer to pat a dog, and then Howells shoved them in, according to St Lawrence County Sherriff's Sergeant Brooks Bigwarfe.
They had planned to keep the two girls, aged seven and 12, as slaves but released them about 24 hours later after hearing news reports of the kidnapping.
The girls were dropped off miles from their family's farm in Oswegatchie where they had been taken.
During their captivity, the sisters were handcuffed together at the ankles and handcuffed to the bedpost, according to Sgt Bigwarfe.
During a court hearing, District Attorney Mary Rain said the children were sexually abused by the "sexual predators".
Defence lawyer Bradford Riendeau said Vaisey was Howells' slave.
The August 14 kidnapping touched off a massive search in the Amish family's remote farming community.
Searchers scoured the community of about 4,000 people but were hampered by a lack of photos of the girls.
The Amish typically avoid modern technology, and the family had to work with an artist who spoke their language, a German dialect known as Pennsylvania Dutch, to produce a sketch of the older girl.
The parents, who have 14 children, did not express anger toward the suspects.
Their father, speaking at his farm, said the two girls were doing well following the ordeal.