The FBI has arrested Timothy David Miller for aiding and abetting the international kidnapping of Isabella Miller-Jenkins by her biological mother, Lisa Miller. (For background on the long-running litigation between Lisa, who became an evangelical Christian, and her former civil union partner, Janet Jenkins, declared Isabella's parent by the courts in Vermont, click here and scroll down to earlier posts). Lisa and Isabella appear to be in Nicaragua.
Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), which has represented Janet Jenkins in the Vermont Supreme Court proceedings in this case, released a statement this morning.
A criminal complaint against Lisa Miller for international kidnapping was lodged on April 27, 2010, after the FBI learned that Lisa had crossed into Canada via the Rainbow Bridge at Buffalo, NY, with another passenger, thought to be a minor, on September 22, 2009. Just to put that date in context, Lisa failed to comply with numerous court orders awarding Janet visitation with Isabella. She did not appear at a Vermont hearing on August 21, 2009, concerning Janet's motion for custody of Isabella. The court ruled on November 20, 2009, that Lisa should surrender custody of Isabella to Janet on January 1, 2010. It is now clear Lisa and Isabella left the country after the hearing and before the court's ruling. Lisa's lawyers unsuccessfully appealed the transfer of custody and unsuccessfully sought review by the US Supreme Court.
The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Timothy Miller (no relationship to Lisa Miller has been established), which was issued on April 1, 2011, reveals that the FBI determined that Lisa and Isabella flew from Toronto to Managua, Nicaragua (via Mexico City and San Salvador) on September 22-23, 2009. Search warrants for Timothy Miller's email and phone records revealed that he is associated with Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) in Managua, and that he was involved in planning for Lisa to "escape" to Nicaragua, including approving the travel itinerary for Lisa and Isabella. The airfare was paid by a credit card in the name of Elaine and Jesse Cooper. The affidavit says that Elaine Cooper is the mother of Joanna Miller, Timothy's wife.
Lisa Miller was represented by Liberty Counsel, specifically Rena Lindevaldsen. Although Liberty Counsel lawyers informed the Vermont court that they did not know where their client was, the FBI affidavit establishes a connection between Liberty School of Law, where Lindevaldsen teaches, and Lisa Miller's presence in Nicaragua. The father of Victoria Hyden, an administrative assistant at Liberty School of Law, owns a home in Nicaragua. His name is Philip Zodhiates and he is connected to an entity that describes itself as a source of mailing lists for conservative and Chirstian mailers and telemarketers. One of Janet Jenkins's lawyers notified the FBI of a telephone call in June 2010 reporting that Zodhiates had asked Hyden to disseminate a request for supplies for Lisa.
Timothy Miller's emails contained a strand of communication between Zodhiates and another man named John Collmus concerning delivery of personal belongings for "Sarah" (believed by the FBI to be the code name for Lisa Miller) to Nicaragua. The emails said that Timothy Miller would meet Collmus at the airport in Managua and identified "Sarah" as working with Christian Aid Ministries in Managua.
You can read the criminal complaints and affidavits against both Timothy Miller and Lisa Miller here. Timothy Miller will be arraigned in Vermont on Monday.
The FBI has done a great job so far. I hope it continues to investigate any involvement of Liberty Counsel, anyone associated with Lisa's lawyers, and any other connections to right-wing Evangelical organizations. It's hard to take the moral high ground while actively disobeying the rule of law, and certainly any lawyer who aided -- or asked others to aid -- Lisa Miller in any way should face severe professional sanctions as well as criminal prosecution.