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A New York court has the power to decide whether a Florida woman can be barred from seeing her children in defiance of orders issued by Florida judges, New York State's highest court ruled Monday.

The 4-3 decision was the latest installment in a two-year tug-of-war between the children's father, who lives in the Rochester suburb of Greece, and their mother, who lives in Pensacola, Fla.

In 1995, Sayeh and Arash Rivazfar said they were scared to visit their mother. They contended that she was abusive and that they were psychologically tormented by the 1988 abduction, rape and slashing in Pensacola of Sayeh by the woman's former boyfriend.

A third child, 6-year-old Sara, was raped and killed in the same attack.

The father of the children, Ahmad Rivazfar, stopped letting Sayeh, then 15, and Arash, then 12, see their mother in violation of several orders by Florida courts. In April, a Florida judge ordered custody of the two transferred to their mother, Patricia Pafford, because of Rivazfar's defiance of earlier court directives.

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