Virginia Minister Involved In Bizarre International Kidnapping Case
A bizarre case involving child-custody, same sex marriage, extradition, ministers and potential kidnapping has found its way into the Commonwealth of Virginia courts. Kenneth Miller, a Mennonite minister from Stuarts Draft, Virginia, will go on trial this week for his alleged involvement in the "kidnapping" and relocation of a child to Nicaragua in order for her mother to avoid sharing custody with her former partner. To truly understand all the machinations and twists in this case, you have to all the way back to Vermont about ten years ago.
Lisa Miller (no relation) and Janet Jenkins had been engaged by the time they sought a Civil Union in Vermont in 2002. A year later Miller gave birth to a child conceived through in vitro fertilization named Isabella. Shortly thereafter the union between Jenkins and Miller fell apart and they dissolved the Union formally in 2003. Miller had initially retained visitation with the child, but a Vermont court had issued a decision granting Jenkins visitation rights with the child.
At this point Miller had begun to align herself with more fundamental Christian beliefs, including denouncing homosexuality. She attempted to appeal Vermont's decision to allow visitation in a Virginia court, hoping that the Commonwealth's stance against same-sex unions would help her case. The court decided that Vermont should have the final say on the matter, considering that both the Union and the subsequent dissolving both happened in that State.
Though the arrangements of their deal and the nature of their relationship are unclear, it appeared that Kenneth Miller helped organize a very circuitous trip to Nicaragua for Lisa and Isabella. He first had people drive them up to Canada, where they caught a flight South of the Border in 2009. The United States has been trying to get Lisa Miller and her daughter back into the Country since then, but has had no luck finding her.
The only thing that Lisa Miller left behind is her relationship with Kenneth Miller. Mr. Miller is undergoing trial in Virginia for his role in the kidnapping of Isabella, although it is likely that was not what he and Lisa were calling the plan when they hatched it a few years ago.
The bond between a mother and her daughter is one of the strongest relationships we have on this planet. The extreme actions taken by Lisa Miller when she felt that bond was threatened are a testament to that. But considering the rulings issued by the courts of both Vermont and Virginia, her actions are against the law. This case was already established a number of precedents in the domestic relations arena, including forcing the Commonwealth of Virginia to consider its stance in honoring same-sex marriage from another state (it does) and various issues of the interstate child custody enforcement. Will the final chapter to this saga be Kenneth Miller's criminal trial? Will anyone who assisted Lisa Miller's plan face prosecution while she spends the rest of her days evading the police in Nicaragua? Kenneth Miller can decide after his hearing if it was worth it for him to get involved.