A family court judge in Vermont Tuesday issued a warrant for the arrest of former lesbian Lisa Miller who disappeared with the child she once shared with her former civil union partner, Janet Jenkins.
Judge William Cohen, a judge in Rutland County, Vermont, ruled February 23 that Miller was in contempt of the Vermont court for failing to turn over custody of the daughter to Jenkins on Jan. 1, as ordered.
According to one of Jenkins’ lawyers, Sarah Star, the judge’s order is essentially an arrest warrant for a misdemeanor. Jenkins must now hope that the state’s attorney in Rutland will seek to file felony criminal charges against Miller. If he does, law enforcement officials in all 50 states, she says, will be empowered to arrest Miller and hold her on $50,000 bond.
Just last week, Judge Louis Harrison, a family court judge in Bedford, Virginia, said he could not issue an arrest warrant for Miller because he could not be sure Miller was aware of the Vermont judge’s order.
Miller’s attorney, Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of the right-wing Liberty Counsel litigation group, has told reporters he does not know where Miller is.
The Miller-Jenkins custody battle has received enormous publicity during the past several years, including an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008. The Supreme Court refused to hear Miller’s appeal of a Virginia Supreme Court ruling that said Miller must comply with the order from a Vermont family court. That court, at the time, had allowed Jenkins visitation rights with her daughter. But Miller’s attorneys continued to file additional litigation seeking to overcome the court orders, and Miller refused to allow Jenkins to visit their daughter. That refusal prompted the Vermont court to order Miller to transfer custody of the daughter to Jenkins. It set Jan. 1, 2010, as the date Miller should make the transfer. But instead of complying, Miller disappeared with her daughter.
Star said Jenkins last saw her daughter, who will turn 8 in April, in January 2009.
In addition to the contempt hearing, the Virginia court also held some confidential proceedings in the county juvenile court last week, and some participants in that hearing have revealed some aspects of those proceedings outside court.
In addition to Star, Jenkins is being represented in the various legal proceedings by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the ACLU of Virginia, and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.
The Miller-Jenkins girl is one of 142 children who have been reported as missing in Virginia during the last two years alone — 85 of them girls — according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Miller has contended that she denied court orders because her daughter had threatened suicide and began exhibiting “strange” behavior after her visits with Jenkins.
In a 2008 interview, Miller also revealed that she herself had tried to commit suicide at one time. During a state hospital stay to address that suicide attempt, Miller said, hospital personnel told her they thought she was a lesbian. She said she soon thereafter pursued a lesbian relationship “trying to recreate a mother/daughter bond that I never had.” Miller said her initial lesbian relationship failed and she sought counseling at the Whitman-Walker Clinic, a gay community health clinic in the Washington, D.C. area. She said she eventually met Jenkins at a group counseling meeting and moved in with her about six months later, in 1998.
© 2010 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.