MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A pastor convicted of helping a Virginia woman flee the country rather than share custody of her daughter with her former Vermont same-sex partner has been ordered to federal prison after a court rejected an appeal of his 2012 conviction.
U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions III on Tuesday ordered Mennonite pastor Kenneth Miller to report on March 22 to begin serving a 27-month sentence for his conviction of aiding in international kidnapping. The report date originally was March 1 but was changed later in the day at the defense's request.
A posting on his website, millercase.org, said Miller agreed not to pursue additional appeals, and prosecutors agreed not to file additional charges.
"This means Ken is expecting to serve his 27-month sentence," it said.
Miller's attorney, Brooks McArthur, called it a "fair resolution" to the case.
McArthur said Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Van De Graaf and other federal prosecutors in Vermont "prosecuted him aggressively, but they treated him with respect throughout the process."
Prosecutors contend Miller, of Stuarts Draft, Virginia, orchestrated the flight of Lisa Miller and her daughter by working with others to find them a new home in Central America. At the time of her 2009 disappearance, Lisa Miller was bound by a Vermont family court order that gave her former partner, Janet Jenkins, of Fair Haven, visitation with their daughter. The child, Isabella Miller-Jenkins, is now 13.
Kenneth Miller and Lisa Miller are not related.
The appeals court issued its decision in December, but the court's mandate dated Monday carried out the decision. Sessions signed the order Tuesday ordering Miller to report to prison.
The legal case is continuing against another Virginia man charged in the case. Waynesboro, Virginia, businessman Philip Zodhiates is due to go on trial in September in Buffalo, New York.
Zodhiates is charged with helping Lisa Miller travel from Virginia to Canada by way of western New York. Prosecutors said Miller flew with her daughter from Canada to Nicaragua, where they were sheltered by Mennonite missionaries.
Lisa Miller and Jenkins entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2000, shortly after the state became the first to legally recognize same-sex relationships. Miller conceived the child through artificial insemination, and both acted as parents.
The two split up. Lisa Miller later became an evangelical Christian and renounced her homosexuality. After years of appeals, courts in Virginia and Vermont determined the case would be bound by the Vermont family court order. After defying visitation orders, Miller became a fugitive in 2009 when she disappeared with Isabella.
This story has been corrected to show that Kenneth Miller was ordered to prison by U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions III, not the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.