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Judge OKs Adopted Russians Reunion

December 24, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ A judge ruled that a couple accused of abusing two Russian girls on an airplane just days after adopting them can be reunited with the children if the parents undergo therapy.

Family Court Judge Joseph M. Lauria ruled Tuesday that Richard and Karen Thorne can begin unsupervised weekend visits with the girls for five hours a day beginning Saturday.

The girls, now 5, can stay overnight with the Thornes beginning Jan. 17, but Mrs. Thorne’s relatives must also be present, Lauria ruled.

If the Thornes undergo therapy, they could begin living with the children on March 27, when the judge is scheduled to make a final custody decision.

The Thornes adopted the girls in May from a Russian orphanage and spent a few days with them before flying to New York. On the flight, the couple was accused by passengers and flight attendants of slapping and verbally abusing the crying children.

The Thornes, who live in Arizona, were arrested when the plane landed in New York.

After living in five different foster homes in the United States, the girls now live with Mrs. Thorne’s brother in Phoenix. The Thornes are allowed to visit them under supervision.

In October, Lauria ruled that the Thornes had used ``excessive force″ on the children and found them guilty of six counts of neglect.

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