Federal prosecutors say a Mennonite minister from Virginia helped a Christian woman flee the U.S. with her daughter after the woman's former lesbian partner was awarded custody of the girl. The minister is now facing charges of aiding international parental kidnapping.
Kenneth L. Miller, 46, appeared in U.S. District Court in Burlington, Vt., on Tuesday for his alleged role in the kidnapping but was later released, according to U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin via Fox News. Miller is accused of helping Lisa Miller (no relation) and her child flee to Nicaragua after her former lesbian partner gained custody of the child, court documents say.
According to an affidavit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington in November but was made public on Tuesday, Kenneth contacted Timothy Miller, a Mennonite missionary to Nicaragua (also no relation), and asked for his assistance in getting Lisa and her daughter to the South American nation in September 2009.
Timothy was allegedly given information by Kenneth so that he could arrange the flights for Lisa and Isabella, and was told he would be reimbursed for the cost of the tickets. Timothy then used his mother-in-law's credit card to purchase the tickets.
Once the travel arrangements were set, Kenneth allegedly requested the assistance of a Mennonite pastor living in Ontario, whose name has been redacted from court documents, to help Lisa and Isabella get to the Toronto airport once they arrived in Canada. The pastor agreed, and Lisa and her daughter left Canada on Sept. 22, 2009.
Lisa and Isabella have not returned to the United States since that time. Lisa was indicted on charges of international parental kidnapping in early 2010.
A year after Lisa left, Kenneth allegedly sent Timothy an email which was partially composed in Pennsylvania German, a language used by some Amish and Mennonite communities, and was translated by an FBI Contract Linguist during the investigation.
In the email, Kenneth expressed concern for Lisa after reading an article which claimed she had been found in Ecuador.
“I don't believe it, but have you heard anything like that?” says the translated version of his email. “Is she still in the same country that she was? Can you get a hold of her?”
Lisa conceived her daughter, Isabella, via artificial insemination while still joined by civil union with her former partner, Janet Jenkins of Vermont. After the couple broke up, Lisa became a Christian, renounced her former homosexual practices and moved both herself and her daughter to Virginia.
After filing to dissolve the civil union in November 2003, Lisa was given custody of Isabella but was required by Rutland Family Court in Vermont to allow Jenkins regular visitation with the girl.
On several occasions, however, Lisa allegedly defied the court order and didn't allow Jenkins to visit her daughter. She claimed her daughter was once forced to bathe with Jenkins and exhibited “violent reactions” after spending time with her. She also said leaving her daughter with Jenkins was like leaving her with a stranger, and that Jenkins did not approve of Isabella being raised in a Christian home.
Jenkins presented her case against Lisa in August 2009, and by November “the Court concluded that Miller willfully interfered with Jenkins's visitation rights and ordered that Jenkins would have sole physical and legal custody” of Isabella beginning Jan. 1, 2010.
Lisa left before her daughter could be taken from her, however. If Kenneth is convicted for his alleged role in the kidnapping, he could serve a maximum three years in prison.
A request from The Christian Post for comment from Brooks McArthur, Kenneth Miller's attorney, was not immediately returned.