Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins were united in a Vermont civil union in 2000. But in subsequent interviews, it became apparent that Miller was not sexually attracted to Jenkins; she may have entered the relationship as a coping mechanism in her struggle with childhood abuse and codependency.
In 2003, Miller became an “ex-gay” activist and absconded to Virginia with Isabella, the couple’s daughter. Utilizing support from Christian Right groups, Miller launched a seven-year campaign in which she violated a series of family-court rulings and appellate decisions in favor of Jenkins’ visitation rights. Due to the repeat violations and failures to appear in court, Miller’s custody rights were revoked in late 2009. At that time, Lisa allegedly abducted Isabella and became a fugitive.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders announced today:
As just reported in the Rutland Herald (pay site), there has been an arrest in the custody case involving former civil-union partners Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller, and their daughter, Isabella Miller-Jenkins. Lisa did not comply with a court order to transfer custody of Isabella to Janet on January 1, 2010.
The person arrested is one Timothy David Miller (link to criminal complaint). Little more is known at this point.
Janet Jenkins issued the following statement from her home in Vermont:
“I’m grateful to everyone in law enforcement for working so hard on finding my daughter, as well as to my attorney, Sarah Star. I know very little at this point, but I really hope that this means that Isabella is safe and well. I am looking forward to having my daughter home safe with me very soon.”
Attorney Sarah Star of Middlebury, who has been representing Janet, said, “It is clear that the government has been working hard on this. Janet is very pleased and we are both hopeful that this will be a step in the right direction of bringing Isabella home. At this point we need to let law enforcement do their work, and recognize that there are still steps to go.”
Mr. Miller will make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in Burlington on Monday, April 25, at 9 a.m.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders has represented Janet at the appellate level in Vermont; Lambda Legal has represented Janet at the appellate level in Virginia.
The Rutland Herald identifies Timothy as “a Tennessee man and Central American missionary” who arranged passage to Nicaragua for Lisa Miller and her non-custodial daughter. Prosecutors say Timothy, who is not related to Lisa, is one of several individuals who aided Lisa as a fugitive from justice. Timothy was arrested in Virginia.
According to the Herald:
In emails and social media messages obtained through federal search warrants, investigators say they tracked Miller’s departure from the U.S. through a border crossing near Buffalo, N.Y., on Sept. 22, 2009.
On that same day, Miller reportedly boarded a plane in Ontario that took her and her daughter to Mexico City. From there, the pair passed through El Salvador before arriving in Nicaragua where investigators say Miller is associated with the Christian Aid Ministries organization in Managua, Nicaragua.
The Herald adds that the Christian Right’s Liberty Counsel — which has filed frivolous lawsuits on behalf of Exodus International and other antigay groups against watchdogs and tolerant school districts — may have aided the abduction.
Investigators say they found an email conversation between Tim Miller and Philip Zodhiates, who Kaegel described as a “leader” within Liberty Counsel — the Virginia-based group whose lawyers defended Miller.
The email messages, sent in November, 2009, are referenced under the subject lines as “bag for Nicaragua” and discuss the sending of packages from Virginia to Nicaragua.
“They are just personal belongings of someone who recently moved to Managua doing missions work and a few things they can’t buy there readily like peanut butter. So it is nothing you need to declare on the customs form,” Zodhiates wrote in an email to a man in Virginia.
Lisa Miller’s lawyers said in court at the beginning of 2010 that they did not know the whereabouts of their client.
As Truth Wins Out has previously observed, Liberty Counsel attorney Rena Lindevaldsen affirmed the abduction of Isabella and covered for Lisa during missed court appearances around the time of the abduction. Other watchdog groups such as People for the American Way have noted the extremes to which Liberty Counsel has gone, to place Isabella in the hands of an apparently unfit “ex-gay” parent.