MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Jenkins v. Miller is a federal case in Vermont brought by a lesbian woman, Janet Jenkins, against her former civil union partner, Lisa Miller, who “renounced” homosexuality and kidnapped their then 7-year-old daughter, Isabella, in 2009 to avoid shared visitation and custody with Jenkins.
After breaking off their Vermont civil union, Lisa, the child’s biological mother, took their daughter to Virginia in 2004. Lisa converted to fundamentalist Christianity and began withholding Isabella from Janet. A custody battle ensued in both the Vermont and Virginia courts. The Vermont courts awarded visitation rights to Janet and the Virginia courts upheld the Vermont decision. SPLC-designated hate group Liberty Counsel represented Lisa in the custody litigations. Before the Vermont family court could decide whether to transfer custody to Janet because of Lisa’s repeated contempt of visitation orders, Lisa kidnapped Isabella and disappeared in Nicaragua for more than a decade. The court formally transferred custody of Isabella to Janet in November 2009.
Janet sued Lisa, Liberty Counsel, and others in federal court in 2012 for kidnapping Isabella to interfere with her and Isabella’s rights.
In 2014, a federal grand jury in New York indicted Lisa on charges of international parental kidnapping and conspiracy. Three individuals who helped Lisa were convicted and sentenced on similar charges.
The following statement is from Scott McCoy, interim deputy legal director with the Southern Poverty Law Center:
“After kidnapping Isabella more than a decade ago, Lisa Miller has finally been returned from Nicaragua back to the United States. We expect that she will be prosecuted for kidnapping to the fullest extent of the law.
The following statement is from Sarah Star, Janet Jenkins’ family attorney in Vermont and SPLC co-counsel:
“Isabella’s mother, Janet Jenkins, was relieved to learn of her daughter’s whereabouts but concerned that she remains in Nicaragua and did not return to the U.S. with Lisa Miller. ‘I just want Isabella to know that I love her very much and that I have never stopped loving her. Isabella has a family and support system here who will always welcome her home with open arms,’ says Janet.
“When Isabella was born, Lisa and Janet named her Isabella Ruth Miller-Jenkins, after Janet’s mother, Ruth Jenkins. Grandparents Ruth and Claude Jenkins, as well as Isabella’s aunt and godmother, Linda Jenkins Garcia, are overjoyed by the thought that they will be able to see their beloved Isabella again. The Jenkins family wants Isabella to know that they have always kept prayer lists going for her, and she has never been out of their thoughts. The family longs for Isabella’s safe return and want her to know that they still celebrate her birthday and that her childhood bedroom is ready and waiting for her.”