RELIGION

Authorities: Couple looking for easy targets abducted 2 Amish girls, sexually abused them

  • A pair of investigators walk on the property of Stephen Howells II and Nicole F. Vaisey, in Hermon, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. Vaisey and Howells were arrested Friday on charges of first-degree kidnapping with the intent to physically harm or sexually abuse the victims. (AP Photo/Watertown Daily Times, Melanie Kimber Lago) MANDATORY CREDIT, SYRACUSE OUT

    A pair of investigators walk on the property of Stephen Howells II and Nicole F. Vaisey, in Hermon, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. Vaisey and Howells were arrested Friday on charges of first-degree kidnapping with the intent to physically harm or sexually abuse the victims. (AP Photo/Watertown Daily Times, Melanie Kimber Lago) MANDATORY CREDIT, SYRACUSE OUT  (The Associated Press)

  • St. Lawrence County Sheriff Deputy Kevin M. Wells, second left, addresses the media on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, outside the St. Lawrence County Courthouse in Canton, N.Y. Wells briefed the media on the arrest of suspected kidnappers Stephen M. Howells II and Nicole F. Vaisey. The couple have been accused of abducting a pair of young Amish sisters from a roadside stand in Oswegatchie, N.Y., on Wednesday, Aug. 13. At left is St. Lawerence County District Attorney Mary Rain. (AP Photo/Watertown Daily Times, Melanie Kimber Lago) MANDATORY CREDIT, SYRACUSE OUT

    St. Lawrence County Sheriff Deputy Kevin M. Wells, second left, addresses the media on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, outside the St. Lawrence County Courthouse in Canton, N.Y. Wells briefed the media on the arrest of suspected kidnappers Stephen M. Howells II and Nicole F. Vaisey. The couple have been accused of abducting a pair of young Amish sisters from a roadside stand in Oswegatchie, N.Y., on Wednesday, Aug. 13. At left is St. Lawerence County District Attorney Mary Rain. (AP Photo/Watertown Daily Times, Melanie Kimber Lago) MANDATORY CREDIT, SYRACUSE OUT  (The Associated Press)

  • 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 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)  (The Associated Press)

Authorities say the northern New York couple charged in the kidnapping of two Amish sisters were prowling for easy targets and sexually abused the girls before letting them go.

The Hermon couple have been arraigned on charges of kidnapping with the intent to physically or sexually abuse the 7-year-old and 12-year-old sisters.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain said Saturday the girls were sexually abused, and the county sheriff said Stephen Howells Jr. and Nicole Vaisey may have planned to abduct other children.

Vaisey's lawyer told The New York Times that Vaisey apparently was submissive to Howell, like his "slave." There was no answer at the law office representing Howells.

Howells and Vaisey are being held without bail and have a preliminary court appearance scheduled Thursday.