BUFFALA, NEW YORK – A Virginia woman involved in a long-running custody dispute with her former same-sex partner pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday after fleeing the country with her child in 2009, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office. in the Western District of New York.
The case also seized Pastor Stewart Draft and a man from Waynesbury.
Lisa Miller, 53, pleaded guilty to international parental abduction in a U.S. district court on Wednesday, the release said. The indictment carries a maximum sentence of up to three years in federal prison and a fine of $ 250,000.
Authorities arrested Miller last January in Miami, Florida, after she voluntarily entered the country after the child turned 18.
Miller and Janet Jenkins joined a civil union in Vermont in 2000, and Miller gave birth to a baby girl through artificial insemination. However, in 2003, Miller broke up with Jenkins, renounced homosexuality and became a Christian.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which represents Jenkins, the Vermont and Virginia courts are fighting for custody. The Vermont courts gave Jenkins the right to visit, and the Virginia courts upheld Vermont’s decision.
In September 2009, the Vermont Family Court ruled that Jenkins was entitled to a meeting with his parents unattended on the weekend of September 25, 2009.
Federal officials said Miller was aware of the visit by court order but was reluctant to allow an unattended visit this weekend. On September 22, 2009, Miller took the child from the United States to Canada via Buffalo and then to Nicaragua. In the same year, the court officially transferred custody of the child to Jenkins.
Miller and the girl have been missing for more than a decade.
Two local men who helped Miller flee the United States have already been convicted of their roles.
In 2012, Kenneth L. Miller, a Mennonite minister from the Stuarts Draft, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison after being convicted of aiding and abetting international parental abduction. The FBI said Kenneth Miller, who is not related to Lisa Miller, helped her and the child buy plane tickets from Canada to Nicaragua.
In 2017, Philip Zodhiats of Weinsbury was sentenced to three years in federal prison.
Zodhiates drove Miller and the child to the Buffalo area, where they moved to Canada. Miller and the child then flew from Toronto, Ontario, to Nicaragua, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York. Upon arrival in Nicaragua, Miller was granted asylum and was assisted by other recruited Zodhiates. Timothy Miller provided financial assistance to Lisa Miller and the child, including giving them asylum, federal officials said.
The girl, who was involved in a custody dispute, is now an adult and has not returned to the U.S. with Miller, federal officials said last year.
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Brad Zine is a police officer, court and reporter for the latest news in The News Leader. Have a hint of news? Or something that requires investigation? You can write to reporter Brad Zina (him / her) at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him Twitter.