Vir­ginia man con­victed in same-sex kid­nap case

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES -

A Vir­ginia busi­ness­man was con­victed Thurs­day of in­ter­na­tional parental kid­nap­ping and con­spir­acy for help­ing a mother take her daugh­ter out of the coun­try to avoid los­ing cus­tody to her for­mer part­ner.

A fed­eral jury in Buf­falo re­turned the ver­dict against Philip Zod­hi­ates, of Way­nes­boro, on Thurs­day af­ter hear­ing dur­ing a week­long trial how he had driven Lisa Miller and 7-year-old Is­abella Miller-Jenk­ins from Vir­ginia to the Cana­dian bor­der in 2009 so they could fly from Toronto to Nicaragua, and had helped with their liv­ing ar­range­ments in the Cen­tral Amer­i­can na­tion.

Nei­ther Miller nor Is­abella, now 14, have been seen in the United States since.

Lawyers for Zod­hi­ates, the owner of a di­rect mail busi­ness that serves con­ser­va­tive Chris­tian groups, de­nied that he was try­ing to ob­struct the other mother’s parental rights by help­ing Miller, who be­came an evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian af­ter dis­solv­ing her civil union with Janet Jenk­ins in Ver­mont.

Miller, who gave birth to Is­abella dur­ing the civil union, de­fied court or­ders grant­ing Jenk­ins vis­i­ta­tion and left the coun­try shortly be­fore a court shifted cus­tody to Jenk­ins, As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Paul Van de Graaf said.

Zod­hi­ates, the pros­e­cu­tor said, en­listed the help of a num­ber of Men­non­ites in the United States and Nicaragua in ar­rang­ing Miller’s trip and a place to stay.

Miller also is charged with in­ter­na­tional parental kid­nap­ping and con­spir­acy and is con­sid­ered a fugi­tive.

A third de­fen­dant, Ti­mothy Miller, re­cently was ar­rested af­ter be­ing de­ported by Nicaragua, U.S. At­tor­ney Wil­liam Hochul’s of­fice said Thurs­day.

A fourth de­fen­dant, Ken­neth Miller, a Men­non­ite pas­tor, was con­victed of in­ter­na­tional parental kid­nap­ping in Ver­mont in 2012.

None of the Millers are re­lated.

CAR­OLYN THOMP­SON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Vir­ginia busi­ness­man Philip Zod­hi­ates leaves U.S. Dis­trict Court in Buf­falo, N.Y., where he was on trial for in­ter­na­tional parental kid­nap­ping and con­spir­acy. Zod­hi­ates was con­victed of the charges.

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