Pastor Sentenced in Miller-Jenkins Kidnapping Conspiracy

Jim Burroway

March 5th, 2013

Kenneth Miller

Mennonite pastor Kenneth Miller was sentenced to 27 months in prison for helping Lisa Miller violate a court custody order requiring that she turn over then- seven-year-old Isabella Miller-Jenkins to the child’s other mother, Janet Jenkins. Instead of complying with the 20o9 court order, Miller fled to central America and went into hiding. According to an FBI investigation, her flight across international borders was aided by several pastors and personnel from Liberty Council and Liberty University.

Kenneth Miller (no relation to Lisa Miller) was found guilty last August. The pastor of the Beachy Amish-Mennonite sect in Stuart’s Draft, Va, who is also one of many defendants in a RICO lawsuit, was defiant in yesterday’s hearing:

During a two-hour sentencing hearing, Miller told U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions III he couldn’t promise he would not commit again aid in international parental kidnapping…. “I give myself unto you to do with me as you see fit,” an obviously emotional Miller told the judge in a courtroom packed with the same supporters who later sang with him outside.

Sessions said he admired Miller for the depth of his convictions, but he could not allow him to choose God’s law over his country’s, saying the pastor had helped deprive Isabella of Jenkins’ love.

Kenneth Miller’s sentence will likely be put on hold while the case is appealed, a process which could take years.

Liberty University’s law school, which is also named the RICO lawsuit, teaches its students to advise their future clients to disregard civil law if it conflicts with “God’s law.” Lisa Miller’s attorneys, Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, are both professors at Liberty University’s Law School. Staver is also the school’s dean and head of Liberty Counsel.

In last August’s trial, prosecutors showed that Kenneth Miller arranged the purchase of airline tickets to Nicaragua for Lisa Miller and Isabella, dressed them in traditional Mennonite clothing for their trip to the Toronto airport, and arranged for Mennonites in Nicaragua to meet them and take them into hiding.

Isabella Miller-Jenkins turns eleven next month.

Lord_Byron

March 5th, 2013

Didn’t Miller basically facilitate child trafficking by helping out Lisa Miller take the child out of the country?

Also, and I normally don’t take this position, but I think it should be a longer prison sentence. As the article states he said he couldn’t promise he would not commit again aid in international parental kidnapping.

Sandhorse

March 5th, 2013

Isabella is the only victim here.

Bose in St. Peter MN

March 5th, 2013

Two years doesn’t strike me as extreme for a crime that is still in motion today.

While the judge expressed modest admiration for the strength of Miller’s beliefs, that sounded like a throw-away line once he followed it with, “The horror of this cannot be overstated.”

Miller remains in contempt for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury investigation into Lisa & Isabella’s current location.

And, as icing on the cake, the next ex-gay parent (or even an anti-gay grandparent) who comes to him for help kidnapping children may well get it.

Hue-Man

March 5th, 2013

So much for American “tough-on-crime” approach if an unapologetic kidnapper can be released from prison while he appeals his (unreasonably low) jail sentence. Smells like one law for poor people of color and another law for the sleaziest 1%ers.

matt

March 5th, 2013

Hard to believe that LU can be an accredited law school if they’re teaching their students to commit malpractice if they find themselves with a religious conflict. Has the ABA ever looked into this?

Priya Lynn

March 5th, 2013

“Sessions said he admired Miller for the depth of his convictions”.

The judge is an a-hole. There’s nothing admirable about that in any way.

Bernie Keefe

March 5th, 2013

Is Staver next??

Truthspew

March 5th, 2013

And here’s hoping Liberty Law et al are sued out of existence.

Ezam

March 5th, 2013

This is incredible. Three years already and they’re still on the run. What the hell have the feds been doing? Had Isabella been the product of a straight relationship, no doubt she would have been back home already.

MattNYC

March 5th, 2013

Ezam,

Don’t be too sure. Somewhere out there there is a statistic on parents (married or not) who flee with or secret away their child from the other parent. The accumulated number (where children are still under 18) is probably in 4-5 digits. Many are even in the U.S. still. Almost all are inevitably from opposite-sex relationships. Some are because of legitimate (but unpunished) abuse situations.

That said, very few–if any–would have had a RICO-style conspiracies involving members of the Bar.

It’s amazing that they remain accredited by the ABA (just achieved fully since 2010). Hopefully they won’t remain with this situation/philosophy. If you really want an indication of how badly the right wing has undermined the legal structures/standards of this country, per Wikipedia:

“U.S. News & World Report has recognized the School of Law as being in the top 17 percent of all law schools for placing graduates as law clerks for federal courts.”

Under the GWB administration, Liberty and Regent Law grads infested every level of Federal government. While a good number were patronage jobs and are gone now, a good many of these law-flouting cockroaches are still scurrying about in the civil service.

Thad

March 5th, 2013

This pastor is a member of a very conservative Mennonite/Amish church. His community fully supports him and treats him like a martyr. This case illustrates how much homophobia, fear, and judgement closeted queer Amish people face each day. Coming out insures the loss of your family, friends, and community. In almost all cases they will be shunned completely. I adore some parts of my culture but this story makes me realize how glad I am that I have left. I’ve started a support network for LGBT Amish and Ex-Amish @lgbtiamish and http://www.lgbtamish.com. Hoping for Isabella’s safe return.

Soren456

March 5th, 2013

The US has jailed journalists indefinitely, their release dependent upon naming a source.

Why can’t that approach be taken here? The crime is ongoing: the girl is still missing and Miller knows where she is, or can name those who know.

Why not an indefinite term, to end when the child is located and returned?

Joel

March 5th, 2013

i just love these stories for those who say that religion should be left alone. That it does nothing past simple belief (in fairy tales). And that THESE beliefs are inherently like any other.
But in reality, for those many that do act on conviction of these beliefs, it does matter to address the issue. Or maybe we should shrug the religion issue aside and conciously neglect the elephant in the room whilst proclaiming the evident nature of gay rights? It’s in a way, how conservative tell us to ignore the gay bullying issue whilst proclaiming how no1 should be bullied.
Ignoring the obvious(as seen in this and many other articles) cause doesnt help at all to further the goal (instrinsic gay rights/intrinsic non-bullying rights).

To me (as per the culture around me) it is evident that it is impossible to address gay rights AND religious liberty as something necessarily harmonious. They both speak of rights… but of different ones. It is silly to say how much rights gays have while at the same time saying how rightful they are to exercise religious liberty when this liberty imposes itself upon the other.

I’ve yet to have any compelling reason why someone can not exercise their religious liberty and need to give me my rights. It is quite clear that my rights infringe upon their religious liberty.

Ryan

March 5th, 2013

The judge is disgusting. There’s nothing admirable about this man’s actions. I wonder how many times this judge calls criminals in his courtroom “admirable”?

Rob

March 5th, 2013

Twenty-seven months seems a light sentence for taking a child away from a parent. I hope the RICO suit against Liberty University is successful. Everything about Jerry Falwell’s legacy is a blight on the face of the nation. He was an evil man who sowed a bitter and poisonous seed. It makes me wish that magic was real so that he would discover that Hell burned hot for hateful preachers as much as it does for any other psychopath.

Qwerty

March 6th, 2013

Oh my lord! Such persecution these poor upstanding christianists face!

This pastor is relishing the fact that he is being persecuted for his religion. He is blessed, just like his good book says (“blessed are those who are persecuted…”). In his mind, if he’s lucky, maybe he’ll end up being crucified, upside down, instead of just a simple jail term. What a blessing that would be!

Such christianists think they can break any law they want to if they think it disagrees with what their imaginary friend thinks (which is amazingly similar to what they personally think).

charl

March 6th, 2013

They should declare this a mistrial and get a judge who’s tougher at him.

CPT_Doom

March 6th, 2013

I wonder what the sentence would have been had an MCC minister helped a lesbian kidnap her kid from a former partner to prevent the child being exposed to a “Christian” lifestyle?

Regan DuCasse

March 6th, 2013

@JOEL: I was watching the clip from the IL legislature’s vote on marriage equality, and now the consideration in MN.
And even though the law clearly states and protects clergy and houses of worship and religious property from being forced to perform any ss religious ceremonies against their will, there are advocates from the ADF complaining that the law doesn’t go FAR enough to protect the religious liberties of county clerks, pharmacists, business owners and so on.
They want a religious person (meaning anti gay Christians), to invoke religious objections to providing services to the public there to receive that accommodation WITHOUT being informed of that objection.
We’ve seen over and over that many people like this, aren’t too smart or especially knowledgable about how civil law and public policy is supposed to work.
I’ve tried to inform these people that they aren’t differentiating who deserves ALL of the same discrimination from these services, and uninformed public, AND religious abuse.
That they’d appreciate protection from religious abuse if someone wanted to invoke Sharia on them any time they wanted.
They didn’t understand what INFORMED public meant and didn’t ask.
They didn’t understand what equal dispersion of discrimination meant and didn’t ask.
They didn’t understand what reasonable accommodation meant and didn’t ask.
They didn’t understand civic enterprise and non discrimination clauses BECAUSE of protections of the public and didn’t ask.

The people sitting there demanding this religious ‘freedom’ never knew or understood what Jim Crow or apartheid was like.
Which is unforgivable to me. They are in fact, demanding to invoke apartheid like similarity into our civil laws and it’s disgusting.
They are resistant to that comparison. Too damn bad, that’s EXACTLY what it is.

Mike G.

March 7th, 2013

Isabella and Lisa Miller are still missing, this pastor is still free, and no charges have been made against Liberty. Un-frickin’-believable! The people in charge of this investigation are either incompetent or in cahoots with anti-gay activists. There’s no other explanation for the lack of progress in all of this.

Steve

March 8th, 2013

The FBI knows exactly where they are. In a Mennonite colony in South America. Nicaragua I think.

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