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You may remember the saga of Janet Jenkins, whose daughter Isabella was kidnapped out of the country back in 2009 by her former lesbian partner, Lisa Miller. This came after Miller, who had gone fundie, refused to comply with a court order to turn over sole custody of Isabella to Jenkins. Well, yesterday Kenneth Miller, a Mennonite pastor convicted last summer for his role in helping Lisa Miller (no relation) flee the country, refused to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the kidnapping. As a result, a federal judge held him in contempt and ordered him jailed for at least a week.
U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions III was reluctant to order Miller held and gave him several chances to change his mind.
“We can’t function as a criminal justice system without the grand jury,” Sessions said. “I appreciate your faithfulness to your religion and your moral beliefs, and perhaps there is an inherent conflict here.”
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.
In August, Miller, a Mennonite pastor, was convicted in federal court in Burlington for helping the woman and child flee the country rather than share custody with her former partner. Miller, who is due for sentencing March 4, is facing up to three years in prison.
Kenneth Miller had been granted immunity from prosecution for anything he told the grand jury, so he really didn't have a leg to stand on. Nonetheless, he claimed that he could not testify because it would implicate others who helped Lisa Miller. Plus, he said, they were obeying God's law, which trumps man's law. Sessions countered that Miller had a duty as a citizen to testify.
This is only the latest legal headache for Miller. In addition to his impending prison term, he also faces a civil RICO suit Jenkins filed against him and several others (including several organs of the Jerry Falwell ministry network) who allegedly helped Lisa Miller kidnap Isabella.