On Tuesday, Reverend Kenneth Miller, from Stuarts Draft, Virginia, was convicted of aiding in international parental kidnapping. Miller helped a woman leave the United States instead of staying to share custody of her daughter with her ex-same-sex partner. Miller could be sentenced to three years in prison.
“I am willing to accept the consequences of my actions,” Miller said. “I am at peace with God. I am peace with my conscience and I give it over to God.”
The reverend was convicted of aiding Lisa Miller and daughter Isabella when they left the United States in September of 2009. In August of 2009, a judge ruled that he was going to grant custody of Isabella to Janet Jenkins if Lisa Miller repeatedly defied visitation orders. A lawsuit was filed by Jenkins while the jury was in deliberation in the Miller case. The lawsuit filed by Jenkins names both Millers and other entities as defendants and asks for monetary damages. The reverend and Lisa Miller are not related. The mother and daughter, who is now 10, were said to be seen last in Nicaragua.
The reverend will be free until he is sentenced but has to turn in his passport so he cannot leave the country. He did not confirm an appeal, saying that it would be his attorneys’ decision.
“She hopes that the verdict will send a message to those who continue to aid and abet Lisa Miller in Nicaragua,” said Jenkins’ attorney Sarah Star. “Her greatest hope is that the government’s efforts will lead to Isabella’s safe return to Vermont.”
During the trial, prosecutors put together a network of people that Kenneth Miller used to help Lisa Miller and Isabella flee the country to Canada and then to Nicaragua. The pair was driven from Virginia to Buffalo, New York. It was there that they entered Canada and met by an Ontario Mennonite who drove them to an airport. Once in Nicaragua, the pair was cared for by American Mennonites. Nicaragua and the U.S. do not have an extradition treaty and the country did not sign the 1980 Hague convention. The convention was about international child abductions and returning the children home.
Jenkins and Lisa Miller became a civil union in 2000 in Vermont. Miller conceived Isabella using artificial insemination and both women acted as parents to the girl. The couple ended the civil union in 2004 when Lisa Miller became an evangelical Christian. When she did so she renounced her homosexuality. Jenkins was granted visitation rights when Miller was granted primary custody.