Mission worker sentenced in international kidnapping case

Apr 3, 2017 by

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One of three people who helped a former lesbian kidnap her daughter and take her to Nicaragua was sentenced March 23 to time served and a year of probation.

The Buffalo News reports Amish Mennonite missionary Timothy “Timo” Miller had already served eight months in custody, including more than a month in prisons in Nicaragua where he and his family conduct mission work.

Timothy Miller with his wife and children on March 23 outside the federal courthouse in Buffalo, N.Y. — Mark Miller

Timothy Miller with his wife and children on March 23 outside the federal courthouse in Buffalo, N.Y. — Mark Miller

He pleaded guilty and admitted to helping Lisa Miller make her way to Nicaragua in 2009 by purchasing one-way tickets from Toronto to Nicaragua and helping them settle in the country. She is believed to still be living there with her daughter.

Timothy Miller and Lisa Miller are not related.

Prosecutors allege Timothy Miller, Kenneth Miller of Stuarts Draft, Va., and Philip Zodhiates of Waynesboro, Va., helped Lisa Miller keep her daughter away from a court order granting parental rights to Miller’s ex-wife Janet Jenkins and “the homosexual lifestyle.”

The girl was born during the couple’s civil union, but after Miller moved to Virginia and renounced her homosexuality, she stopped cooperating with visitation requests. A Vermont judge gave Jenkins custody in 2009, prompting Miller to flee the U.S.

“There has been so much collateral damage,” U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara said of the men who helped Lisa Miller. “I see some basically wonderful people making some bad decisions and getting entangled in this mess.”

Timo Miller’s brother Mark Miller of Temple, Texas, said the family didn’t know what to expect going into the March 23 hearing.

“There had been some talk about him possibly being released today, but we didn’t have any assurances,” he told MWR March 23.

He said the defense and prosecutors agreed his time served was sufficient, citing several weeks he spent in a Nicaragua prison before being extradited to the U.S.

“We praise the Lord for how he worked today,” Mark Miller said.

Zodhiates was convicted of international parental kidnapping and conspiracy for his role recruiting the other men for the endeavor. The Associated Press reports he drove Miller and her daughter from Virginia to the Canadian border in 2009 and helped with living arrangements in Nicaragua.

Zodhiates was sentenced March 22 in Buffalo to three years in prison.

Kenneth Miller was held in contempt of court Sept. 22 while serving 27 months in prison for his role, after refusing to testify in Zodhiates’ trial.

Jenkins filed a civil lawsuit in 2012 against Miller and others involved in the kidnapping, but the case was put on hold until criminal trials were completed. On March 20, the federal court in Vermont lifted a stay and allowed Jenkins to name other defendants, based on evidence used in the criminal proceedings.

Jenkins then added defendants Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., the university’s legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel, and Liberty Counsel lawyers Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen.

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