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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Howells And Vaisey Sentenced For Child Exploitation

Sentenced to Hundreds of Years in Prison for Sexual Exploitation of Six Children, Including Two Who Were Abducted

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Stephen M. Howells, II, 40 of Hermon, New York, was sentenced today to serve 580 years in prison in connection with his sexual exploitation of six children, including two St. Lawrence County girls he abducted with his girlfriend, Nicole F. Vaisey, 26, also of Hermon, from a roadside vegetable stand on August 13, 2014, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian, Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Albany Division, and St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells. Vaisey was also sentenced today to serve 300 years in prison for her role in the offenses, including her participation in the sexual exploitation of four of the children. The Court also ordered the forfeiture of property used by the defendants in the commission of these crimes, consisting of two cars, a computer and five hard drives, a camera, and two iPhones.

On May 8th, Howells pled guilty to all twenty-one federal charges: conspiracy to sexually exploit minors, fifteen counts of sexual exploitation of children, involving six victims, and five counts of possession of child pornography. On May 14th, Vaisey also pled guilty to conspiracy to sexually exploit minors, as well as nine counts of sexual exploitation of children, involving four victims.

From September of 2013 through August 15, 2014, Howells and Vaisey conspired to sexually exploit children for the purpose of producing videos and pictures of such conduct. Howells used his position as a registered nurse to obtain drugs to administer to the six children to sedate them. On at least sixteen dates specified in the indictment, Howells sexually abused six young girls, ages 5 – 11, sometimes with Vaisey also doing so, as Howells or Vaisey filmed that abuse. Howells and Vaisey made arrangements with close friends and family to spend time with four of the children, and then betrayed their trust. Howells and Vaisey also developed, planned, and carried out a scheme to abduct children to sexually abuse them. On August 13, 2014, they kidnapped two Amish children from their family’s roadside farm stand by pretending to be customers. Howells forced the children into the car and Vaisey drove off. The two children were restrained as captives in Howells’ and Vaisey’s home until they were released in a remote location the next night. An ongoing manhunt and investigation resulted in the arrests of Howells and Vaisey and searches that helped uncover the other child sexual abuse by them.

United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian said: "The sentences imposed today are a reflection of the monstrous crimes committed by Stephen M. Howells, II and Nicole F. Vaisey against the most vulnerable among us – our children. Howells and Vaisey will never be able to abduct, drug, and sexually abuse children again. Our hearts go out to the six children victimized by

Howells and Vaisey, and to all children who are subject to sexual exploitation. It is our hope that these severe sentences will deter others from engaging in such depraved conduct. Our commitment to promoting prevention, protecting children, and combatting child sexual abuse is complete and unwavering."

"Today’s sentencing is a culmination of an investigation into the unspeakable crimes committed against innocent victims within St. Lawrence County. The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office has worked towards this conclusion in a cooperative investigative effort with our Federal, State and Local partners. This collaborative effort to bring these two to justice and stand responsible for their actions shows how well law enforcement can work together for the victims and citizens that we serve. The Sheriff’s Office appreciates the public support that has been demonstrated for the victims and the law enforcement agencies that were involved," said St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells.

"The unspeakable acts against innocent children committed by Stephen Howells and Nicole Vaisey represent some of the most heinous and evil crimes ever committed in Troop B. It was through the collective efforts of all law enforcement agencies working tirelessly that these two depraved individuals will be brought to justice and will never pose a threat to our children and our communities again," said New York State Police Major Charles Guess, Troop B Commander.

"Stephen Howells and Nicole Vaisey represent the horrifying reality of the danger our families and children face; they are predators that plotted and schemed to harm those that are most precious to us," said Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale. "It is our sworn duty to protect our community’s children, and the unfathomable suffering of Howells and Vaisey’s victims and their family is our daily reminder of that duty. Today’s sentencings are the culmination of tremendous efforts made by the FBI, the United States Attorney’s Office, the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, and the New York State Police."

This case was investigated by FBI, the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa M. Fletcher, Tamara Thomson, and Steven D. Clymer.

Project Safe Childhood
Updated December 21, 2015