BURLINGTON, VERMONT— A Virginia pastor was convicted last week for helping a woman kidnap the daughter she shared with her ex-partner, who she married in a 2000 Vermont civil union. Rev. Kenneth Miller of Stuarts Draft, Virginia, was charged with aiding in international kidnapping, for his part in helping Lisa Miller (no relation to Kenneth) and her daughter, Isabella, flee the country in 2009, one month after a judge ruled in favor of her former partner, Janet Jenkins, of Fair Haven, Vermont.
The couple was legally joined in 2000, shortly after Vermont became the first state to adopt civil unions. After their split, Lisa Miller became an evangelical Christian, and renounced her homosexuality. After the couple dissolved their civil union, a childcustody case went to Vermont family court in 2004. Lisa Miller, who had moved to Lynchburg, Va., was given primary custody, and Jenkins allowed visitation rights. But the court found Lisa Miller to be in defiance of a series of visitation orders, and ruled that she would lose custody if she refused to comply. Investigators say that Lisa and Isabella Miller—who is now 10 years old—were last seen in Nicaragua.
Court records indicate that Kenneth Miller, a member of the American Mennonite sect, felt that Isabella needed protection from a sinful lifestyle. The U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Nicaragua, and that country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on international child abductions, which was crafted to facilitate the return of children illegally taken from member nations.
“I am willing to accept the consequences of my actions,” said Kenneth Miller, who faces up to three years in prison. “I am at peace with God. I am peace with my conscience, and I give it over to God, and at the same time I respect the decision of the court.”