OSWEGATCHIE, N.Y. (AP) — The father of two Amish girls abducted in northern New York last week said he feels sorry for the two people accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing his daughters.
The parents of the 7- and 12-year-old sisters spoke to the Johnson Newspapers at their home in Oswegathcie on Sunday, two days after Stephen Howells Jr. and Nicole Vaisey were charged with kidnapping with the intent to physically or sexually abuse the girls.
“It’s sad,” the 44-year-old father said. “They must have ruined their whole life.”
The Associated Press is not naming the family members because it generally does not identify victims of sexual abuse.
The sisters were abducted Wednesday from a farm stand in front of the family’s home near the Canadian border. They were set free by their captors about 24 hours later and turned up safe at the door of a house 15 miles from where they were taken.
Howells and Vaisey were arrested Friday. Authorities say the couple sexually abused the girls before letting them go. St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain says additional charges are likely this week.
Lawyers for the suspects could not be reached by phone on Monday, but Vaisey’s lawyer, Bradford Riendeau, told The New York Times that she was in an abusive relationship with Howells.
The Amish couple, who have 14 children, did not express any anger toward the suspects.
A 19-year-old sister told the newspaper group, which includes the Watertown Daily Times, that her younger siblings were not speaking much about their ordeal. The mother says she is grateful to have her girls back home, but daily life has not yet returned to normal.
“We feel relieved we have them,” the mother said. “It’s still not like it was.”
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