By John Clark
A trial will begin this week in a bizarre dispute between a pair of former lesbian partners whose contentious child custody dispute ended with one partner kidnapping their daughter and taking her to Nicaragua, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The criminal trial centers on a Mennonite pastor, Kenneth Miller, who is accused of helping Lisa Miller, with whom he shares no relation, allegedly kidnap her own daughter and take her to Central America.
But the criminal trial is just a sideshow in the heated dispute between Lisa Miller and former partner, Janet Jenkins, both residents of Virginia who entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2000.
After they entered into a civil union, Miller gave birth to the coupleâ€™s daughter, Isabella, in 2002, after Miller sought the aid of a sperm donor.
But a few years after Isabella was born, the couple broke up, and Lisa Miller took Isabella home to Virginia, against the wishes of Jenkins, who wanted to retain custody of her daughter.
While civil unions are distinct from traditional marriages, the Vermont court that heard the coupleâ€™s initial dispute treated the pair just as it would a heterosexual couple going through a divorce, and initially gave Lisa Miller custody and Jenkins regular visitation rights.
After Jenkins protested this decision, however, the Vermont court transferred custody of the young girl to Jenkins after ruling that Miller has repeatedly refused to allow Jenkins to visit her child.
In response to this decision, Miller argued that the Vermont court did not have jurisdiction in the matter because she and the child lived in Virginia, but a Virginia court upheld the jurisdictional rights of Vermont because it was the state where the couple received its civil union.
Despairing about losing her child, and caught in the midst of anti-homosexual rhetoric that she had adopted, Miller apparently panicked and fled from Virginia to Nicaragua.
During her bizarre journey, she was allegedly aided by Kenneth Miller, who is now facing trial for his role in the disappearance of Lisa Miller and her 10-year-old child.
And to add further confusion to the mix, sources say that Lisa Miller and her daughter have not yet been found by authorities who are searching for them.
So, if Miller is convicted, he could ultimately go to jail, while the Lisa Miller and her daughter remain hidden somewhere in Central America, and Janet Jenkins continues to learn that child custody disputes can sometimes become incredibly bizarre.