Men Sentenced Who Helped Ex-Lesbian Christian Mom Escape Country With Her Daughter

Philip Zodhiates and Timothy Miller receive different sentences but both are out of prison for now.

By Nancy Flory Published on March 28, 2017

Two men charged with helping an ex-lesbian escape the country to shield her daughter from her ex-partner’s homosexual lifestyle were sentenced last week. (See original story here. See follow up stories here and here.)

Two Men Sentenced

Philip Zodhiates was convicted of international parental kidnapping and conspiracy to commit such kidnapping in September. He could have been sentenced up to eight years in prison and fined $500,000. Last week Zodhiates was sentenced to 36 months on the kidnapping charge and 36 months for accessory. He will serve the sentences at the same time. He was also fined $100 for each charge. He filed an appeal and is now out on bond.

On the same day Zodhaites was sentenced, Timothy “Timo” Miller left prison. He had pled guilty in November to conspiracy to commit international parental kidnapping. He could have gotten 5 years and a fine of $250,000. According to one source, last week Timo Miller was fined $100 and was released for time served. He will be on parole for one year in Pennsylvania.

The court overstepped its bounds, calling someone a parent who is not a parent and turning a child over to a person who lives contrary to biblical truths. — Lisa Miller’s attorney, Rena M. Lindevaldsen

The Background Story

Lisa Miller had been involved in a lesbian relationship with Janet Jenkins. Their home state of Virginia did not recognize same-sex marriages at the time, so the two entered into a civil union.

In 2001, Lisa Miller had fertility treatments and became pregnant. Her daughter Isabella was born in early 2002. Within a year, Miller became a Christian. As a result, she decided to leave the homosexual lifestyle and her civil union. “It wasn’t a struggle,” Lisa told the Washington Post in 2007. “I felt peace.” She began attending a local Baptist church with Isabella and enrolled Isabella in a Christian school where she taught.

At first, Lisa Miller and Jenkins shared custody of Isabella. Soon, Isabella began to show troubling symptoms. She wet the bed and suffered from nightmares. She also touched herself inappropriately and even threatened suicide after her visits with Jenkins. Because of this, Miller stopped sending Isabella to see Jenkins. After a legal battle, the judge awarded Jenkins full custody. Jenkins’ custody was scheduled to begin on the first day of 2010.

By the end of September, however, Lisa and Isabella were gone.

Several Mennonite Christians had helped Lisa and her daughter flee. They crossed the Rainbow Bridge from Niagara Falls, New York, to Canada in late September, 2009, on their way to Nicaragua.

The Arrests

Authorities believe Zodhiates drove Lisa Miller and her daughter to Buffalo, New York. From there, Miller and her daughter made their way to Canada.

Zodhiates was indicted in October 2014.

Timo Miller was first arrested in April, 2011 for aiding and abetting the “kidnapping” of Isabella. Authorities believed Timo Miller helped Lisa Miller travel to a “safe house” in Nicaragua.

In December of that year, the prosecution dropped the charges against him in exchange for his testimony and cooperation in their investigation against Mennonite pastor Kenneth Miller. (Kenneth is not related to either Timothy Miller or Lisa Miller.)

Timo was detained in Nicaragua in August, 2016. He was soon deported to the United States, where he was arrested for helping Lisa Miller. In October, 2016, Timo appeared before the United States District Court, Western District of New York, and consented to pretrial detention. But in the end he accepted a plea deal and did not go to trial.

Kenneth Miller was convicted for aiding international parental kidnapping in December, 2011. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison. His role was indirect. He had helped Lisa and Isabella by getting other Amish-Mennonites to purchase plane tickets for a flight from Canada to Nicaragua through Mexico and El Salvador. He also bought Mennonite dresses for Lisa and Isabelle, which the two wore to conceal their identities.

Some things can never be locked up inside prison walls. Truth. Conscience. Moral righteousness. And the saving Gospel of Jesus. — Kenneth Miller

 What Now?

After hearing of Timo Miller’s 2011 arrest, Lisa Miller and her daughter disappeared from their Nicaraguan home. They haven’t been seen since. According to the New York Times, authorities believe the two are still in Nicaragua. Isabella is now almost 15 years old.

Liberty Counsel’s Rena M. Lindevaldsen, co-counsel with Mathew Staver on Lisa’s case, said that she knew Lisa could go to prison if caught. Though that would hurt Isabella, Lindevaldsen doesn’t blame Lisa. “It’s sad that in America a woman was faced with this choice,” she said. “The court overstepped its bounds, calling someone a parent who is not a parent and turning a child over to a person who lives contrary to biblical truths.”

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