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Tuesday
Apr262011

Christian Network Implicated in Parental Kidnapping

George Doyle/Thinkstock(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) -- An Amish Mennonite pastor charged with helping a woman kidnap her daughter from her lesbian partner may have had help from a network of groups with roots in the Christian and missionary world including Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, according to court documents.

The pastor, Timothy Miller, was arrested last week in Alexandria, Virginia.  A criminal complaint filed by the FBI in a federal court in Vermont alleges that the Amish Mennonite pastor aided in the "international parental kidnapping" of Isabella Miller Jenkins, the daughter of former lesbian couple Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins.  Isabella is now nine.

Timothy Miller, who is no relation to Lisa Miller, appeared in court Monday and posted a $25,000 bond, and is now in the custody of a friend.

Court documents claim that Timothy Miller, 34, left a computer trail that shows family members as well as friends and associates were discussing Lisa Miller's flight to Nicaragua on emails both before and after she disappeared nearly two years ago.

The trail shows that Rev. Miller's mother-in-law's credit card was used to purchase plane tickets for the missing mother and daughter who flew from Toronto to Mexico to El Salvador and then to Managua, Nicaragua.  Timothy Miller and his wife, Joanna, have served as missionaries in Nicaragua, according to court documents.

Timothy Miller's parents wrote so freely about Lisa Miller's intention to flee with the child that Timothy Miller told his parents to stop writing about and discussing her, according to emails gathered by the FBI.

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins were once in a civil union and Lisa Miller gave birth to Isabella in 2002.  The couple lived mostly in Virginia, but they obtained a civil union in Vermont.  Lisa Miller filed to dissolve their civil union in 2004.  Since then, Lisa Miller has renounced her homosexuality and become a Christian.  The two women were embroiled in a custody dispute when Lisa Miller and Isabella disappeared in 2009.

Lisa Miller and Isabella were given new names, according to court documents, with Lisa becoming "Sarah" and Isabella becoming "Lydia," court papers state.

Timothy Miller appeared to work in conjunction with several groups.  The plane tickets were purchased through Golden Rule Travel, a group focusing on "international adoption, humanitarian and missionary travel," according to court documents.

Bank records cited in the court documents state that Lisa Miller "received multiple payroll checks from the Lynchburg Christian Academy Payroll Account."  Lynchburg Christian Academy, renamed Liberty Christian Academy, is linked to Liberty University and was also founded by Jerry Falwell.

During the legal fight, Lisa Miller was represented by Rena Lindevaldsen, an associate law professor at the Liberty Center for Law and Policy, which is headquartered at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

In addition, Philip Zodhiates, the owner of a company specializing in source lists for Christian telemarketers and retailers, has a home in Nicaragua, according to court documents.  Investigators allege that Lisa Miller and Isabella are staying at the home.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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