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Accused New York couple looked to victimize more children, sheriff says

| Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, 7:45 p.m.

Two Amish girls were sexually assaulted during the 24 hours they were held captive, law enforcement officials told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain said the victims, a 12-year-old and her 6-year-old sister, suffered the assaults after they were abducted from a roadside farm stand near their family's home in Huevelton, N.Y.

Although the girls' names were published as authorities fanned out and searched for the missing youngsters, news organizations are now withholding their identities because of the sexual assault allegations.

A Hermon, N.Y., couple arrested on Friday night in the kidnappings might have planned to abduct more children, Sheriff Kevin Wells said.

“There was the definite potential” of additional victims and that more charges might be filed against Stephen Howells, 39, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, Wells said.

The two girls walked out to their family's roadside vegetable stand on Wednesday night because they thought Howell and Vaisey were customers, authorities said. The couple snatched the girls and dropped them off late Thursday in Richville, N.Y., where they approached a stranger's home, who recognized them from their Amish dress and news reports and called police.

The 12-year-old was able to point police to the couple's home, about 13 miles from where the girls live, and Howell and Vaisey agreed to be interviewed on Friday night.

The sheriff said Howells and Vaisey did not necessarily grab the girls because they were Amish.

Rain declined to say whether one or both suspects were believed to have been involved in the assault.

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