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Pastor held in custody for refusing to testify in same-sex custody dispute

Thursday, January 24, 2013

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A Vermont federal judge has ordered a pastor to be held in custody after the man refused to answer grand jury questions about his role in helping a woman and her daughter flee the country in a same-sex custody case.

Kenneth Miller of Stuarts Draft, Va., was ordered held for one week to see if he would change his mind.

Kenneth Miller

U.S. District Judge William Sessions said Thursday he was reluctant to order Miller held, but that he had no choice because Miller’s testimony is crucial to the criminal justice system.

Miller, a Mennonite minister, said his deeply held religious beliefs prevent him from answering questions.

Miller was convicted last year of charges he helped a woman and daughter flee rather than share custody of the child with her former lesbian partner in Vermont.

According to federal prosecutors, Miller helped orchestrate Lisa Miller’s flight to Canada and ultimately to Nicaragua in 2009, despite court orders from family courts in both Vermont and Virginia that ordered Ms. Miller to honor visitation and custody orders with her former partner, Janet Jenkins.

Jenkins and Lisa Miller were joined in a civil union in Vermont in 2000. Two years later, after in vitro fertilization, Miller gave birth to their daughter, Isabella.

After embracing conservative Christian ideals, Lisa Miller eventually renounced homosexuality; she filed to dissolve the union with Jenkins in 2003, and although she gained custody of Isabella, a Vermont court gave Jenkins visitation rights.

Two months after Lisa Miller fled the country, a Vermont family court judge transferred custody of Isabella to Jenkins.

Lisa Miller and Isabella are believed to be in Nicaragua.

(The two Millers are not related.)

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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7 more reader comments:

  1. Exactly where he should be. Defying court orders is absurd.

    Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 1:35pm
  2. Seriously?????

    Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 1:54pm
  3. In IN…a Judge ruled against myself when I was completely dopped up, and parents tried to “alter”my sexuality to straight. When in fact, the Pastor when I was 67 didn’t help my Mother nor us children out at all. I think there should be a discrepancy when in fact that a Pastor is trying to assist and is Cardinal Law_; for which he stands for their Church…I am a gay male and and that’s how I was.

    Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 1:55pm
  4. At first I thought this was gonna be one that made me pissed at the courts but he is where he belongs. You have 2 seperate court orders requiring visitation and you help one parent flee the country to avoid it? Kidnapping plain and simple

    Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 2:31pm
  5. Wait…..are they related??? I agree with everyone on the punishment

    Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 2:46pm
  6. Lisa Miller lived about an hour from where I live at in Virginia. I didn’t know she had fled the country though. I sure this child is reunited with her other mom soon.

    Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 4:55pm
  7. People say [ "not to question JUdges" ] but, are Judges 100% trustworthy, and clear headed, and trusted with many sorted different lengths of hearings of this or that??? They are human just like you and I…they have feelings, and ARE NOT the SUpreme Court. IS this right for Vermont in:re to same sex marriage/ custody battles; that to which an Advocate needs to step in and speak to the PAstor, or to the Mother and Daughter?? Because where IM from, If anything is found different, at times they will institute you, or dope you up literally so you cant answer questions in the correct format…-or-take it from me, my disability happened when I was three, and people took advantage of me ever since.

    Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 6:18pm