Monday, April 25, 2011

Arrest in Ex-Gay Child Abduction Case Has Ties to Liberty University

It's been a while since we heard anything new about the child abduction case involving the daughter of Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins. The couple were civilly unionized in Vermont in 2000, then split up in 2003, when Miller decided she wasn't a lesbian any more, moved to Bedford, Va. and joined the ex-gay movement in nearby Lynchburg.

Upon dissolving the union, a Vermont judge awarded joint custody of the women's daughter Isabella to Jenkins, which Miller refused to honor, resulting in the court awarding full custody to Jenkins. Miller fought the case in Virginia, where there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships. The Vermont ruling was upheld by the Virginia court, which ordered Miller to surrender custody of the child to Jenkins on January 1st, 2010.

Miller was a no show at the custody exchange and went into hiding with the couple's daughter, prompting a federal kidnapping charge and an international search for the two.

MSNBC reported Friday via the AP on the arrest of a Tennessee pastor who allegedly helped the mother and daughter flee the country.
MONTPELIER, Vt. — A Tennessee pastor who allegedly helped a woman abscond to central America with her 9-year-old daughter has been charged with aiding a kidnapping, the latest twist in a long-running custody dispute between former lesbian partners.
Timothy David Miller, 34, of Crossville, Tenn., is accused of helping to arrange passage for Lisa Miller of Virginia and daughter Isabella Miller Jenkins, who have been on the run since 2009 and now are believed to be living in Nicaragua.
It doesn't appear that Timothy Miller is related to the mother. He works with an Ohio-based Christian ministry and people with links to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University may have provided a beach house where the two could live, according to an FBI affidavit.
"I know very little at this point, but I really hope that this means that Isabella is safe and well," said Lisa Miller's former partner, Janet Jenkins, of Fair Haven. "I am looking forward to having my daughter home safe with me very soon," she said in a statement released by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, which has provided legal help to her.
Parental kidnap aid alleged Timothy Miller, described by the FBI as a pastor in an Amish-Mennonite church, is charged with aiding in international parental kidnapping, which carries a potential three-year prison term. He's accused of providing Lisa Miller and the girl with travel assistance and a place to live outside the U.S.
Jim Burroway over at Box Turtle Bulletin expands on the Liberty University connection.
Page 9 of the complaint shows that at least part of the airline tickets were “approved by Timothy” and the cardholder was Elaine R. Cooper, of Brethren, Michigan. Cooper is the adoptive mother of Timothy Miller’s wife. They made travel arrangements through a Christian travel agency, Golden Rule Travel. The agent who made the arrangements was Linda Rose Miller. Lots of Millers in the mix, although the FBI’s affidavit notes that no biological relationship has been established between the travel agent and Lisa Miller, or between Lisa Miller and Timothy Miller.
But here is where the web gets interesting. On Page 15 of the complaint, Philip Zodhiates, a wealthy “Liberty Leader,” owns a beach house in Nicaragua where Lisa and Isabella had been staying. He had requested that his daughter, Victoria Hyden, “disseminate a request to get Lisa Miller supplies.”
And who is Victoria Hyden?
She’s an administrative assistant for Liberty University’s School of Law’s financial aid department.
To complete the web further, Mat Staver, head of Liberty Counsel, is also the dean of Liberty’s School of Law. Lisa Miller’s lawyer, Rena Lindevaldsen, Miller’s attorney at Liberty Counsel, is also an Associate Professor of Law at Liberty University.
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