March 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Mennonite pastor who helped ex-lesbian Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella to flee the United States to escape unsupervised visits with Miller's former sexual partner was sentenced to two years and three months in prison today. However, the sentence was stayed pending appeals by the minister's attorneys regarding the venue given to the trial.
Supporters of Pastor Kenneth Miller, who is unrelated to Lisa Miller, welcomed the delay of the sentence, which they said "could potentially be several years," according to a website maintained by supporters. "Until then, we are thrilled to have our dear brother, husband, and father back with us. (...) Thanks be to God."
Pastor Miller has been in jail for several weeks due to his refusal to testify regarding others accused of aiding in the escape of Lisa Miller. He was immediately released following today's verdict and is headed home.
Obama administration prosecutors had asked Vermont federal judge to give the Mennonite pastor up to three years in jail, the maximum allowable sentence, for helping Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella to flee the United States.
According to the federal attorneys, Pastor Kenneth Miller has caused lesbian Janet Jenkins – named by the court as Isabella’s other “mother” - to suffer "unimaginable daily torment" because she cannot have access to Isabella.
"Because of [Miller's] brazen intervention, a child — an American citizen — is growing up outside this country," wrote prosecutors in a brief to the judge, "and a mother must bear the unimaginable daily torment of being separated from her child, without any word on her child’s health or well-being. Kenneth Miller’s offense could not be more serious."
Miller, however, sees his actions differently. "I was faced with a woman in distress who needed help to protect her daughter from what seemed to be an inhumane court decree," he told the court in a letter.
"If it is true that my actions flow out of my faith in Jesus, and from my deeply held moral believes — and I sincerely think they do — then it must follow that whatever judgment is being brought against me by the United States of America, is judgment on my faith and conscience and deeply held moral beliefs."
Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella were allegedly taken to the Canadian border by Kenneth Miller in late 2009, so that she could board a flight from Toronto to Managua, Nicaragua. She was sheltered by Mennonites there for a time, although her current whereabouts are unknown.
While living as a lesbian, Lisa Miller had entered into a "civil union" in the state of Vermont with Jenkins, who she later said was psychologically and physically abusive. Miller gave birth to Isabella during the civil union and left shortly thereafter, initially allowing visits with Jenkins. However, following Miller's return to the Christian beliefs of her childhood, she wished to end the visits and protect her daughter from Jenkins' influence.
Vermont family court judge Richard Cohen ruled that Jenkins was Isabella's "mother," despite the fact that Jenkins had no biological relationship with Isabella, and had never adopted her. Isabella's birth certificate does not mention Jenkins as a parent, although her last name is "Miller-Jenkins," the last name of her mother Lisa at the time of Isabella's birth.
Cohen also discarded testimony submitted by experts indicating that Isabella was psychologically traumatized by the court-ordered, unsupervised visits. The judge ordered a full transfer of custody after Lisa Miller failed to comply with his orders. Isabella's court-appointed advocate had told the jduge that Isabella did not wish to be transferred and that the child could be harmed by such a change.