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Prosecutors seek 300 years for woman in kidnapping of 2 northern New York Amish girls


SYRACUSE, New York — A woman involved in the kidnapping and sexual abuse of two Amish girls in northern New York should be given the maximum 300-year prison sentence, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Nicole Vaisey admitted in May that she and her boyfriend, Stephen Howells, sexually exploited six children. Authorities say victims were drugged and recorded during sex acts. The abuse ended after the couple was arrested for kidnapping two young Amish girls at a farm stand in August 2014. The girls were released after a day.

Vaisey's attorney has said she was a virtual slave to Howells, but prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum filed Monday that there is no evidence that she was coerced. Videos show her playing on her phone as Howells abused a child in the bed next to her and sometimes taking part in the abuse.

"Vaisey was an active and willing participant," Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Fletcher wrote in the sentencing memorandum. "Her motive is irrelevant. It is certainly no comfort to her victims that Vaisey participated in the crimes against them in an effort to make Howells happy, or in an effort to not lose her boyfriend."

Prosecutors claim she has engaged in a "blame game" with Howells and hasn't shown remorse.

Prosecutors last week asked for a 580-year sentence for Howells. The pair will be sentenced Dec. 17 in federal court in Syracuse.

Vaisey's attorney, Bradford Riendeau, asked the judge last week in a separate filing to consider a sentence below the lawful maximum, arguing she had been severely abused by Howells and that he "owned her body, her soul and her will."

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