The Associated Press reports:
A Virginia businessman was convicted Thursday of international parental kidnapping and conspiracy for helping a mother take her daughter out of the country to avoid losing custody to her former partner.
A federal jury in Buffalo returned the verdict against Philip Zodhiates, of Waynesboro, on Thursday after hearing during a weeklong trial how he had driven Lisa Miller and 7-year-old Isabella Miller-Jenkins from Virginia to the Canadian border in 2009 so they could fly from Toronto to Nicaragua, and had helped with their living arrangements in the Central American nation.
Neither Miller nor Isabella, now 14, have been seen in the United States since.
Lawyers for Zodhiates, the owner of a direct mail business that serves conservative Christian groups, denied that he was trying to obstruct the other mother’s parental rights by helping Miller, who became an evangelical Christian after dissolving her civil union with Janet Jenkins in Vermont.
Miller, who gave birth to Isabella during the civil union, defied court orders granting Jenkins visitation and left the country shortly before a court shifted custody to Jenkins, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Van de Graaf said.
Zodhiates will be sentenced on January 30th and faces eight years in prison.
Earlier this year Pastor Kenneth Miller (no relation) was sentenced to 27 months in prison after losing his appeal. The whereabouts of Isabella Miller-Jenkins remains unknown.
RELATED: On the same day in 2012 that Kenneth Miller was found guilty of abetting the kidnapping of Isabella to Nicaragua, lesbian mom Janet Jenkins filed a RICO lawsuit against many of the parties suspected of conspiring in the crime, including Liberty University, the parent of the vile anti-gay hate group Liberty Counsel, whose president Mat Staver was specifically named in the suit. In July 2015 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling that Liberty University’s liability insurance policy covers such lawsuits. In 2012 American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer called for the creation of an “underground railroad” to aid Christians who kidnap the children of gay parents.