Hearing set in Amish girls' kidnapping in NY

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Hearing set in Amish girls' kidnapping in NY
These images provided by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office shows the booking photo of Stephen Howells II, left, and Nicole Vaisey, who was arraigned late Friday Aug. 15, 2014 on charges they intended to physically harm or sexually abuse two Amish sisters after abducting them from a roadside farm stand. (AP Photo/St. Lawrence County Sheriff)
This image provided by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office shows the booking photo of Stephen Howells II, 39, who was arraigned late Friday Aug. 15, 2014 on charges he intended to physically harm or sexually abuse two Amish sisters after abducting them from a roadside farm stand. (AP Photo/St. Lawrence County Sheriff)
This image provided by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office shows the booking photo of Nicole Vaisey, 25, who was arraigned late Friday Aug. 15, 2014 on charges she intended to physically harm or sexually abuse two Amish sisters after abducting them from a roadside farm stand. (AP Photo/St. Lawrence County Sheriff)
This undated artist rendering provided by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office in Canton, N.Y. via the Watertown Daily Times shows 12-year-old Fannie Miller. Miller and her six-year-old sister, Delila, vanished from a roadside vegetable stand near their home in Oswegatchie, N.Y. after a white car pulled up to the farm stand on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 around 7:30 p.m. The Amish sisters were dressed in dark blue dresses with blue aprons and black bonnets. (AP Photo/St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office)
Two Amish sisters have been kidnapped in upstate New York. Authorities say Fannie Miller, 12, and Delila Miller, 7, were taken from this roadside farm stand about 50 miles east of Watertown. Photo courtesy of WSYR-TV
The sisters went missing at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday evening, police said. Anyone with information is urged to call 911. Photo courtesy of WSYR-TV
Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies escort Nicole Vaisey to her preliminary hearing Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, at town court in Fowler, N.Y. Vaisey and her boyfriend are accused of abducting and sexually abusing a pair of young Amish sisters on Wednesday, Aug. 13, before releasing them the following day. (AP Photo/Mike Virtanen)
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BY MICHAEL VIRTANEN

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A woman accused along with her boyfriend of abducting two young Amish sisters from a farm stand and sexually abusing them is due in court for a preliminary hearing.

Nicole Vaisey, 25, was expected to be in court Thursday.

The couple from Hermon were arrested Friday, accused of abducting the 7-year-old and 12-year-old sisters from the family's rural farm stand near the Canadian border. The sisters turned up the next night at the door of a house 15 miles from their home.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain said last week that they were sexually abused and other charges are likely.

Vaisey's lawyer said she was the victim of an abusive relationship.

"She was in a master-slave relationship," with 39-year-old boyfriend Stephen Howells Jr., said attorney Bradford Riendeau. "I believe she's not as culpable as he is."

Howells waived his right to a preliminary hearing and his case will go straight to a grand jury. There was no answer late Tuesday at the county public defender's office, which is representing Howells.

The couple is in jail without bail.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual abuse and is not naming the girls.

St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells said the couple were prowling for easy targets and may have planned to abduct other children. He said the girls were able to provide details to investigators about their time in captivity.

Amish Kidnapping Presents Unique Challenge For Police

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