ALBANY, N.Y. - A woman accused along with her boyfriend of abducting and sexually abusing two young Amish sisters is due in court for a preliminary hearing.
Nicole Vaisey was in Fowler Town Court on Thursday. Her lawyer, Bradford Riendeau, says she's a victim of an abusive relationship with 39-year-old Stephen Howells Jr.
“They were involved in a master-slave relationship,” Riendeau said. “There's just some pretty nasty stuff that he did to my client.”
Howells, who spent time as a nurse at Samaritan Hospital in Troy, waived his right to a similar hearing. His case will go to a grand jury in St. Lawrence County near the Canadian border.
Riendeau said he's prepared to defend Vaisey by saying she wasn't in control, but he did note the seriousness of the felony charge.
“It's in the same category was murder and some other very serious things, and it has a very serious maximum sentence.”
The couple is in jail without bail. They were arrested and arraigned Friday, accused of abducting the 7-year-old and 12-year-old sisters from the family's rural farm stand.
The sisters turned up the next night at a house 15 miles from their home.
St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells said police are still investigating the case and interviewing people that knew the pair. He said police are trying to get a better timeline of their lives. He believes the couple planned to abduct more children and more charges are expected to be filed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.