The case has become a cause -- pitting gay rights -- against conservative Christian beliefs.
The latest chapter in the long running custody battle over Isabella Miller Jenkins. The man who helped one of her mothers kidnap the girl and flee the country sentenced to more than two years in federal prison.
Joyful and giving thanks Monday outside federal court in Burlington.
"I'm very grateful for the mercy of God. God bless you all," exclaimed Pastor Kenneth Miller.
Pastor Kenneth Miller and dozens of others from his Virginia Menonite congregation celebrated -- despite being sentenced to 27 months. He had been held in prison -- but unexpectedly -- Judge William Sessions released him pending his appeal.
"I'm also very grateful to all my friends and my cellmates back at St. Albans and back at Essex County. They took me in and made me one of their own," Miller said.
Miller is facing that 27 month sentence because he helped Lisa Miller -- who is not related to him -- kidnap her daughter Isabella during a custody dispute and flee to Nicaragua 4 years ago.
Lisa Miller -- and Janet Jenkins joined in a civil union in Vermont more than a decade ago. Isabella was born in 2002. But the couple split up. Miller moved to Virginia with the girl -- became a born again Christian -- and denounced her lesbian past. The custody battle over Isabella dragged on -- until 2009. That's when Miller and the girl got the pastor's help fleeing the country -- after a Vermont judge ordered Isabella turned over to Jenkins in Vermont.
The pastor was unapologetic. In court -- Miller could not promise the judge he would not do the same thing again. Prosecutors say he revels in the fame the case has brought to his church. It has grabbed national headlines -- pitting religious freedom for conservative Christians -- against parental rights for lesbians and gays.
"Basically a child was stolen from one of her parents. Any parent out there has got to wonder what it would be like to have their kid in that same place. And it's intolerable for someone to use any justification for taking a child away from their parent. You know, whether it be religious or whatever other justification one might have," explained Tris Coffin, U.S. Attorney for Vermont.
Kenneth Miller told the court he helped Lisa Miller leave the country -- because society is seeking to re-engineer and redefine marriage. Isabella is now 10 years old. Authorities believe she is still in Nicaragua with Lisa Miller.
Friday, April 18 2014 12:04 AM EDT2014-04-18 04:04:40 GMT
A Putney man was taken to the hospital after police say he was run over in a driveway. It happened this afternoon on Kimball Hill Road. Investigators say 63-year-old Eric Ladd was walking slipped and hitMore >>
A Putney man was taken to the hospital after police say he was run over in a driveway. It happened this afternoon on Kimball Hill Road.More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-18 04:00:59 GMT
Police are searching for clues after a homemade bottle bomb was found at a park in Keene New Hampshire. On Wednesday workers were doing spring clean-up at Wheelock park when they found a 55-gallon drumMore >>
Police are searching for clues after a homemade bottle bomb was found at a park in Keene New Hampshire.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:58 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:58:40 GMT
There's been a tragedy on the Burlington beltway Thursday night. Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltway. The name has been releasedMore >>
Burlington Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltline.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:08:04 GMT
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags. More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:58:26 GMT
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury. Timothy Foley did appear in court Thursday in Middlebury. He wasn't there last time,More >>
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>