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Couple Arrested in Battering of Adopted Daughters on Plane

June 01, 1997|Associated Press

NEW YORK — A Phoenix couple who adopted two 4-year-old girls from Russia were charged with beating the children repeatedly during a flight from Moscow to New York.

Richard Thorne, 48, and his wife, Karen, 42, allegedly screamed at the girls and struck them Wednesday during the 10-hour, nonstop Delta Airlines flight from Russia to Kennedy International Airport, authorities said.

"Apparently, flight attendants and passengers tried to intervene but were rebuffed by the defendants," said Mary DeBourbon, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

According to a criminal complaint filed in court, a flight attendant said she saw Thorne slapping both girls throughout the flight, shouting "Shut up!" and warning the children they would be sent back to Russia. The children were screaming and crying almost constantly throughout a period of 10 hours, according to the document.

Port Authority police met the plane when it landed and arrested the couple. They were arraigned Thursday night in Queens Criminal Court on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, assault and harassment--all misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in a jail--and ordered held in lieu of $5,000 bail each.

The girls were turned over to foster care. One girl had a scrape on her arm, according to the complaint.

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