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US: Va. man surrenders in Vt. lesbian custody case stretching from Canada to Central America
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) ' A Virginia man who federal prosecutors say helped a woman leave the country with her daughter so she wouldn't have to turn custody of the girl over to her former lesbian partner surrendered Tuesday to face charges he aided in international parental kidnapping.
A complaint unsealed Tuesday said Kenneth L. Miller, 46, of Stuarts Draft, Va., arranged passage for Lisa Miller to travel to Canada before flying with her daughter in September 2009 to Nicaragua, where she was sheltered for a time by a group of Mennonite missionaries.
Kenneth Miller appeared in U.S. District Court in Burlington, Vt., on Tuesday and was released, said U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin, who would provide no further information about the case.
Kenneth Miller's attorney, Brooks McArthur, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins moved from Virginia to Vermont to be joined in a civil union in 2000. Two years later, Miller gave birth to Isabella, conceived through artificial insemination. The couple split in 2003, with Miller renouncing homosexuality and becoming a Christian.
After the breakup, a judge gave Lisa Miller, whose most recent U.S. address was Bedford, Va., custody of the child but ordered regular visits with Jenkins, who lives in Fair Haven, Vt. Over the course of several years, Miller continued to defy court visitation orders and in 2009 a Vermont judge turned custody of the child over to Jenkins.
Prosecutors say Lisa Miller and the child traveled to Nicaragua in September 2009 before the handover could take place.
Earlier this year, prosecutors indicted an American Mennonite missionary living in Nicaragua, Timothy Miller, on charges of helping Lisa Miller reach Central America. In October, prosecutors dropped the charges against Timothy Miller in exchange for his cooperation.
None of the Millers involved in the case is related.
The affidavit made public Tuesday indicated that Timothy Miller had helped provide the information that led to the charges against Kenneth Miller.
The affidavit says Timothy Miller arranged passage for Lisa Miller and her daughter, paying for the tickets with his mother-in-law's credit card, but Kenneth Miller had told him he would be reimbursed for the price of the tickets.
Lisa Miller and her daughter were last known to be in Nicaragua in March 2010, but the affidavit cites a website "lezgetreal.com" that says Lisa Miller and her daughter were reported to be in Quito, Ecuador, in the fall of 2010.
In the spring of 2010, Lisa Miller was indicted in Vermont on charges of international parental kidnapping.
The latest complaint alleges that Kenneth Miller, a Mennonite pastor, asked another Mennonite pastor from Ontario, whose name was redacted from the affidavit, to meet Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella, now 11, at a hotel in Niagara, Ontario.
In Ontario, that pastor picked Lisa Miller and her daughter up at the hotel and took them to the airport in Toronto, where they flew to Mexico and then Central America.
If convicted of aiding in international parental kidnapping, Kenneth Miller could be sentenced to three years in prison.