Burlington, Vermont — A Mennonite pastor that was convicted of providing assistance to an ex-lesbian who fled the country with her daughter has been jailed after refusing to testify against others who were possibly involved in the matter.
U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions III ordered Ken Miller of Stuarts Draft, Virginia to be jailed for at least a week after he refused to testify before a federal grand jury during a hearing on Thursday. Miller told the judge that his religious beliefs prohibited him from taking the stand in the case.
“These people they wanted him to testify against are fellow citizens of God’s kingdom,” Attorney David Bercot, an Anabaptist lawyer from Amberson, Pennsylvania, explained to reporters. “And it’s like, you wanted me to be a rat — to turn on my fellow citizens. That’s basically what it came down to.”
Bercot told Christian News Network that Miller had originally plead the Fifth, but when the court granted Miller immunity and vowed not to use his testimony against him, it required Miller to testify before the grand jury.
“Most people don’t know that they can force you to testify,” he said.
According to the Burlington Free Press, Sessions was reluctant to sentence Miller to jail, and struggled to find the balance in the matter.
“We can’t function as a criminal justice system without the grand jury,” he stated. “I appreciate your faithfulness to your religion and your moral beliefs, and perhaps there is an inherent conflict here.”
However, when one of Miller’s attorneys advised the judge that sending their client to jail would not change his mind about testifying, Sessions replied that the only way to find out was to see what happens.
As federal marshals began to take Miller into custody, he said to Sessions, “God bless you, your honor.”
Miller is already facing up to three years in prison after being convicted of “aiding and abetting kidnapping” for allegedly helping an ex-lesbian flee the country in an effort to avoid court orders that she allow her former partner to have visitations with Miller’s daughter.
As previously reported, Miller was convicted last August for helping Lisa Miller (no relation) and her young daughter Isabella travel to Buffalo, New York, where they crossed the border into Canada and then escaped to Nicaragua. Miller, who turned to Christ in 2003, had been threatened by family court judge Richard Cohen that if Miller did not allow her daughter to have visitations with her former lesbian partner, Janet Jenkins, he would transfer full custody to Jenkins. In addition to not wanting her child to be raised in the homosexual lifestyle, Miller believed that her daughter was being traumatized from alleged activities taking place between her partner and her daughter.
In November 2009, Cohen followed through with his threats.
However, Miller had fled the country with Isabella before he issued the transfer order, and for some time, none knew the whereabouts of the two. Information later turned up that Miller and Isabella had taken refuge in Nicaragua. It was also found that Pastor Kenneth Miller had a part helping Miller flee the country.
“I’ve already surrendered my freedom to Christ, and if this is the path he chooses for me, I will walk it,” Miller told reporters following his conviction. “I am willing to accept the consequences.”
“I am at peace with God,” he added. “I am at peace with my conscience. I give it over to God.”
The next hearing in the grand jury trial for another man facing charges for his involvement in the matter, for which Miller had been ordered to testify, is set to take place next week.