Though the courthouse in Burlington, Vt., was flooded with supporters singing traditional Christian hymns, the Reverend Kenneth Miller, a Mennonite pastor from Stuarts Draft, Va., was convicted Tuesday of helping a woman kidnap her daughter to prevent her lesbian ex from having custody of the girl after the court awarded it to her, according to the Associated Press. In a case that has sparked a national search for a girl, Miller helped Lisa Miller (no relation), a so-called ex-gay woman take her daughter, Isabella, to Latin America in order to not have to share custody of the now-10-year-old girl with her other mother, Janet Jenkins.
Lisa Miller and Isabella were last seen in Nicaragua, but the U.S. has no extradition treaty with that country. The case has been tried in Vermont, where Jenkins and Miller had a civil union in 2000. After the couple broke up, Miller became an evangelical Christian and moved to Virginia; as a result of her religious conversion, she believes being lesbian is a sin. After years of court actions, Miller lost custody of Isabella to Jenkins and fled with the girl.
Kenneth Miller now faces up to three years in prison, reports the AP, but he told reporters that he is “willing to accept the consequences of my actions. I am at peace with God. I am peace with my conscience and I give it over to God.” He remains free pending sentencing.
Jenkins was not present, but her lawyer, Sarah Star, said of her client, “She hopes that the verdict will send a message to those who continue to aid and abet Lisa Miller in Nicaragua. Her greatest hope is that the government’s efforts will lead to Isabella’s safe return to Vermont.”