A US pastor is being convicted after helping a woman flee the country three years ago to stop her former lesbian partner from vising their daughter.
The jury issued its verdict against Reverend Kenneth Miller, a Virginia pastor, on Tuesday (14 August), and charged him with aiding in international kidnapping.
Lisa Miller, no relation to the pastor, continued to share parental rights of daughter Isabella with her lesbian partner Janet Jenkins after their civil union ended.
Miller was ‘cured’ of her homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian, enlisting the help of anti-gay groups.
A month after a judge said he would turn custody of the girl over to Jenkins if Miller continued to defy visitation orders, Miller asked for help from the pastor and fled the country.
Miller and Isabella, now 10 years old, were last known to be in Nicaragua.
According to the Associated Press, the preacher showed no emotion as the verdict was read and will remain free pending sentencing, although he was ordered to surrender his passport.
‘I am willing to accept the consequences of my actions,’ said Miller, who could spend three years in prison.
He added: ‘I am at peace with God. I am at peace with my conscience and I give it over to God, and at the same time I respect the decision of the court.’
Jenkins was not in court, but her attorney said she was pleased the pastor was being held accountable.
The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Nicaragua, and the Central American country is not a signer of the 1980 Hague convention which is designed to return children taken illegally.
Her attorney Sarah Star said: ‘She hopes the verdict will send a message to those who continue to aid and abet Lisa Miller in Nicaragua.
‘Her greatest hope is that the government’s efforts will lead to Isabella’s safe return to Vermont.
American Family Association head Bryan Fischer has said God wants children of gay parents kidnapped.
After referencing the Miller/Jenkins case, he defended his comments, saying: ‘God’s law, not man’s law, is to be followed.’