The couple who allegedly kidnapped their eight children from foster care during a supervised visit is claiming that they did it because some of their youngsters were being sexually abused.
“You can’t blame the parents for acting in the children’s best interest,” Norman Steiner, the lawyer representing Shanel Nadal, 26, and Nephra Payne, 34, told the Daily News yesterday, a day after the kids were found in good condition and the couple arrested.
Nadal and Payne, whose children were taken away from them in 2009 following allegations of abuse, abducted their children Sept. 19, during a supervised visit at the Forestdale Agency, a Queens non-profit agency, officials said.
The couple was arrested Monday in Harrisburg, PA, after a surveillance effort detected Payne entering and leaving a van with some of the children, and charged with custodial interference. Seven of the children are named “Nephra,” and range in age between 4 and 11. An 11-month-old girl is named Nefertiti.
“We are aware of the allegations being made by the parents and we take all allegations of abuse seriously,” said Michael Fagan, a spokesman for the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.
He added that in order to protect the privacy of the minors, the agency could not comment on whether the children would be returned to their prior foster homes.