Trial Nears In Vt. Civil-union Child Custody Case

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- A trial beginning this week in federal court in Vermont could lift some of the mystery from an international child-custody case that has highlighted the religious tensions surrounding legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

Jury selection is to begin Tuesday in Burlington in the case against the Rev. Kenneth Miller, of Stuarts Draft, Va. He would be the first person to go to trial as part of what prosecutors describe as a network of Mennonites and friends who helped shepherd Lisa Miller and daughter Isabella, now 10 years old, out of the country in 2009. Opening statements are expected Wednesday.

Authorities say Rev. Miller drove Lisa Miller -- who is no relation -- and her daughter from Virginia to Buffalo, N.Y., in an effort to help the woman evade an order expected from a Vermont family court that Lisa transfer custody of Isabella to Lisa Miller's former partner. Lisa and Isabella are believed to have traveled on to Canada and eventually Nicaragua. Their whereabouts are unknown. The girl is now 10 years old.

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins entered into a civil union in Vermont shortly after the state became the first to legally recognize same-sex relationships in 2000. Miller conceived the child through artificial insemination, and both acted as parents.

Miller later became an evangelical Christian and renounced her homosexuality.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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