ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY, NY — An upstate New York couple who abducted and sexually abused two Amish girls were sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in prison on state kidnapping charges.
The sentences imposed by St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome Richards will run concurrently with federal prison terms of 580 years for Stephen M. Howells II and 300 years for Nicole Vaisey. They were sentenced in federal court last month.
Howells and Vaisey, who were sentenced separately in state court on Tuesday, did not address the court before receiving 25-year terms each for the August 2014 kidnappings.
The couple “targeted the most vulnerable members of our community,” District Attorney Mary Rain told the court.
Howells’ attorney, Amy Dona, told the court that her “client is not looking for sympathy,” CNN affiliate WWNY reported. She described Howells’ childhood as “pretty disturbing.”
Vaisey’s attorney was not immediately available for comment.
Rain said Vaisey sought out Howells on a website and offered to be his slave in a master-slave relationship.
Howells and Vaisey in August kidnapped the two sisters, ages 6 and 12, from a vegetable stand outside their family farm, authorities said.
They lured the girls with a puppy, asking if they wanted to pet the dog, a Doberman pinscher-golden retriever mix named Kaleidoscope, police said. When the older sister got suspicious, Howells pushed the girls into the back of the car.
The girls were held captive for nearly 24 hours, police said. They were handcuffed together, shackled to a bed and sexually abused.
After extensive media coverage, a large police response in the area and an Amber Alert, the couple became worried and decided it was too risky to keep the girls, police said.
Howells abandoned the girls in an isolated area 12 miles from where they were being held, police said.
Howells pleaded guilty in May to the sexual exploitation of six children, including two Amish girls. The charges included conspiracy to sexually exploit minors, 15 counts of sexual exploitation of children — involving six victims — and five counts of possession of child pornography.
Vaisey also pleaded guilty that same month to charges of conspiracy to sexually exploit minors, and nine counts of sexual exploitation of children, involving four victims.
From September 2013 through August 2014, Howells and Vaisey conspired to sexually exploit children by producing videos and pictures of sexual conduct with them, federal prosecutors said.
Howells used his position as a registered nurse to obtain drugs that were used to sedate the six children. On at least 16 occasions, Howells sexually abused six girls, ages 5 to 11, according to federal prosecutors.
Vaisey at times participated in the sexual assaults, and both Howells and Vaisey filmed the abuse, prosecutors said.