January 24, 2013

Pastor refuses to answer questions in Vt. custody dispute

In 2012, he assisted a woman and her daughter in fleeing to Nicaragua.

The Associated Press

BURLINGTON, Vt. – A Virginia pastor convicted of helping a woman and her daughter involved in a custody dispute with the woman's former lesbian partner was taken into federal custody Thursday after refusing to answer questions about others involved in the flight posed by the grand jury investigating the custody case.

Kenneth Miller, of Stuarts Draft, Va., apologized to U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions, but said his religious beliefs prevented him from complying with the court's order that he testify about others involved in the 2009 flight of Lisa Miller and her daughter. The Millers are not related.

"I am willing to submit myself to whatever" the court decides, the 47-year-old Miller said Thursday during a court hearing called after he refused to answer questions from the grand jury sitting at the federal courthouse in Burlington.

Sessions was reluctant to order Miller held, giving him several chances to change his mind.

"I appreciate your faithfulness to your religion and your moral beliefs and perhaps there is an inherent conflict here," the judge said.

One of Kenneth Miller's lawyers said he didn't believe incarcerating Miller would induce him to agree to testify, but Sessions said there was no way to find out unless Miller spent time in jail.

After Miller was taken into custody, his wife Linda, in court along with a handful of other supporters, said she wasn't surprised by the court's action. "He will always be my husband," she said. "Until death do us part."

Miller was convicted last summer by a jury of helping Lisa Miller and her daughter, Isabella, travel from Virginia to Nicaragua via Canada in September 2009 so Lisa Miller would not have to comply with court orders that she allow her former partner, Janet Jenkins, of Fair Haven, to visit with her the girl.

 

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