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A couple accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing two young Amish sisters in August are facing additional federal charges involving more child victims, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The case against Stephen Howells and Nicole Vaisey now involves six victims, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said. Howells and Vaisey, who live in Hermon, had previously been charged with crimes against three children, including the Amish girls, who were held for a day and released.
The new 21-count indictment had not been filed as of early Wednesday evening, so details weren't available. But Hartunian said Howells and Vaisey are charged with sexually exploiting three children between September 2013 and August 2014 and Howells is additionally charged with six counts involving four children at other times.
Howells also is charged with five additional counts of possessing child pornography found on five hard drives, including images and videos of children under the age of 12.
Howells and Vaisey previously pleaded not guilty. Vaisey's lawyer, Bradford Riendeau, declined to comment Wednesday because he had not seen the superseding indictment. He has said Vaisey, 25, was controlled by Howells, 39, in a master-slave relationship. Howell's lawyer could not be reached for comment.
The 7- and 12-year-old Amish girls were abducted from their family farm stand in rural Oswegatchie, near the Canadian border. The abduction touched off a massive search in the community of about 4,000 people, but authorities 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 to produce a sketch of the older girl. Authorities say the girls were shackled and sexually abused before being released the next day about 20 miles from home.
- Couple in Amish Kidnapping Case Hit With Federal Charges
- No Bail For Suspects in Amish Girls Kidnapping Case
- The Associated Press