New York woman admits role in abusing kidnapped Amish girls

May 14, 2015, 12:54 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A woman accused of helping kidnap and sexually abusing two Amish girls pleaded guilty Thursday to 10 charges of making child pornography with them and other victims.

Nicole Vaisey and boyfriend Stephen Howells were charged last year by federal prosecutors with coercing and sexually exploiting the Amish girls and some other children. Howells pleaded guilty last week to 21 charges.

Vaisey’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 25. The Amish girls, then 7 and 11, were abducted Aug. 13 from their family’s roadside farm stand. They were released the next day.

“She is herself a victim,” defense attorney Bradford Riendeau said. She decided to plead guilty at a pretrial conference Thursday where the mother of one child victim was in court, he said.

Vaisey mainly videotaped Howells sexually abusing the children, who were drugged, Riendeau said. “I think his goal was to make them unaware,” he said.

Prosecutors filed a motion this week intended to prohibit Vaisey from presenting a defense that she only acted under duress in a “master/slave” relationship with Howells, though they acknowledging that could be raised as a mitigating factor at sentencing.

She told investigators she met Howells through the social networking site Fetlife and signed a “Service Agreement” to grant Howells “full use and ownership of (her) body, spirit, mind,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Fletcher wrote. However, the agreement also specified her right to leave that servitude.

The videos found by investigators showed no weapons, and Vaisey never appeared frightened, according to prosecutors. She drove the car into which Howells pushed the Amish girls, lured by the chance to pet Vaisey’s dog inside, and Vaisey drove them all to the house she and Howells shared and helped bring them inside. The 25-year-old then drove to her sister’s house to eat and made excuses about why Howells couldn’t join them.

“Even at this point, with every opportunity to escape, to end the conspiracy, to rescue these children, Vaisey instead continued in her crimes,” Fletcher wrote. “As such, she cannot avail herself of a duress defense.”

To make that defense, Riendeau said, under the law he would have had to virtually prove his client had a gun against her head and no chance to escape. His first concern was Vaisey’s well-being and mental health, and the court proceedings and attempt to raise that defense would have been lengthy and difficult, he said.

Also Thursday, St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain said Vaisey and Howells will plead guilty in state court to two counts of second-degree kidnapping. Each will be sentenced to the maximum of 25 years in prison as a condition of the plea, Rain said.

“I’m just delighted that the kids don’t have to come in and testify,” she said.

According to federal authorities, Howells sexually abused six children from December 2012 to August 2014 on 16 specific dates, using drugs to sedate them.

U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby is scheduled to sentence the 39-year-old Howells on Sept. 18. He faces 15 to 30 years in prison on many of the charges, which can be consecutive.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President ...
Associated Press

US lawmakers meet detained Philippine opposition leader

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, who was once banned from the Philippines by former President Rodrigo Duterte, on Friday met a long-detained Filipino opposition leader, whom he says was wrongfully imprisoned under Duterte and should be freed. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and a group of U.S. legislators met former Sen. Leila […]
4 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 10, 202...
Associated Press

Biden to host unity summit against hate-fueled violence

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President Joe Biden will host a White House summit next month aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to “heal the soul of the nation.” The White House announced Friday that Biden will host the United We Stand […]
4 hours ago
Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an interview with The Associated Pr...
Associated Press

Mahathir expects early polls, ruling party gains in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad expects Malaysia’s graft-tainted ruling party will hold general elections in coming months — and could win big — but the nonagenarian reformer vowed Friday that he would fight “even a losing battle” on principle. In an wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Mahathir described President […]
4 hours ago
A person wearing a protective mask walks in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikk...
Associated Press

Global markets lower after Wall Street gains on jobs data

BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets and Wall Street futures fell Friday after unexpectedly good U.S. jobs data left room for more interest rate hikes to cool inflation. London, Shanghai, Tokyo and Frankfurt declined. Oil prices edged lower but stayed above $90 per barrel. Fewer Americans than expected filed unemployment claims last week, the Labor […]
1 day ago
Mosquito Joe lead technician Damien Ysasi sprays a mixture of essential oil insecticides in a yard ...
Associated Press

Backyard mosquito spraying booms, but may be too deadly

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — It’s an increasingly familiar sight in U.S. cities and suburbs: A van pulls up to the curb. Workers wearing gloves, masks and other protective gear strap on backpack-type mechanisms with plastic hoses, similar to leaf blowers. Revving up the motors, they drench trees, bushes and even house walls with pesticides […]
1 day ago
New home construction encroaches dormant fields owned by Kelly Anderson, left, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2...
Associated Press

Crisis looms without big cuts to over-tapped Colorado River

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Hydroelectric turbines may stop turning. Las Vegas and Phoenix may be forced to restrict water usage or growth. Farmers might cease growing some crops, leaving fields of lettuce and melons to turn to dust. Those are a few of the dire consequences that could result if states, cities and farms […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
New York woman admits role in abusing kidnapped Amish girls