Couple, Accused of Abducting Their 8 Children, Are Held on $75,000 Bail

More than two weeks after they were apprehended in Harrisburg, Pa., with their eight children, whom they were accused of abducting from a foster care facility in Queens, the two parents returned to New York on Thursday for their arraignment.

The couple, Shanel Nadal, 28, and her husband, Nephra Payne, 34, were each ordered held on $75,000 bail. During their appearance in Queens Criminal Court, the judge, Ira Margulis, also issued an order of protection for the children, all of whom had been placed into foster care by the Administration for Children’s Services in the past two years.

Ms. Nadal and Mr. Payne were silent in court aside from Ms. Nadal’s mouthing “Thank you for coming” to a group of relatives and friends as she entered the courtroom and shouting “Love ya’all!” as she left.

After the arraignment, their lawyer, Norman Steiner, said the couple were pleased to be back in New York, even if their return was forced, “because they’re closer to their children and that gives them some peace.”

The children were living in three different homes in Queens, but were together at the Forestdale child care facility in Queens on Sept. 19 for a visit with their mother when they disappeared. The couple faces kidnapping, custodial interference and child endangerment charges.

Mr. Steiner told Judge Margulis that Ms. Nadal and Mr. Payne had acted under the belief that at least one of their children was sexually abused by one or more of the biological children of the foster parents charged with caring for them. Mr. Steiner also said the children’s forced removal from Ms. Nadal and Mr. Payne’s custody had been unjustified in the first place.

Mr. Steiner said he had been in contact with Family Court lawyers who had seen photographic evidence of physical abuse against one or more of the children during their time in foster care. Kenneth Appelbaum, an assistant district attorney in Queens, said in court that he believed that no one at the Administration for Children’s Services was aware of any prior complaints by Ms. Nadal or Mr. Payne about abuse.

Mr. Steiner also referred to a clandestine phone call he said one of Ms. Nadal and Mr. Payne’s children placed to them while asking a foster parent for dinner.

“You’re not eating today because you did X, Y and Z,” Mr. Steiner said Ms. Nadal and Mr. Payne heard the caregiver tell their child.

“They chose the lesser of two evils,” Mr. Steiner told the judge, underscoring what he said were legal and moral grounds for the couple’s actions. Their next court date is scheduled for Oct. 25.

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