Sunday, August 19, 2012

Civil Suit Filed Against Christian Organizations In Bid To Reverse Kidnapping After Civil Union Dissolution

As previously reported, last Tuesday a federal court jury in Burlington, Vermont, found a Beachy Amish-Mennonite pastor guilty of abetting a parental kidnapping by Lisa Miller, who had been in a Vermont civil union with another woman. Miller (who declared herself a born-again Christian) sought to avoid the court-ordered child visitation rights awarded to her former partner Janet Jenkins by fleeing, ultimately to Nicaragua, where she has obtained shelter from Christian missionaries. On the same day the conviction was announced, Janet Jenkins filed a civil suit in federal district court in Vermont seeking damages and an injunction ordering return of the kidnapped child to the United States.  The suit was filed against Lisa Miller and against a number of Christian organizations and their personnel, all of whom were alleged to have been involved in some way in assisting Lisa Miller.  The complaint (full text) in Jenkins v. Miller, (D VT, filed 8/14/2012), included as defendants the convicted pastor, Christian Aid Ministries, Response Unlimited Inc., Liberty University Law School, and Thomas Road Baptist Church (whose pastor is the son of the late Jerry Falwell).  It alleges as to various defendants violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, kidnapping, conspiracy to violate civil rights, and a claim under 42 USC 1986 for neglecting to prevent civil rights violations by others. According to last week's Lynchburg (VA) News & Advance, Liberty University law school dean Mathew Staver says the suit is "completely outrageous, and filled with lies and misrepresentations." [Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]