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Woman in international same-sex child custody case in court

·2-min read

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A woman charged with fleeing the United States for Nicaragua with her daughter rather than share custody with her former same-sex partner pleaded not guilty Friday back in Buffalo, New York, the city from which the mother and daughter allegedly departed.

Lisa Miller, 52, entered the pleas in federal court in Buffalo to charges of conspiracy and international parental kidnapping.

Miller waived her right to a detention hearing and will remain in custody, although she reserved the right to seek a hearing in the future, said Barbara Burns, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.

A phone number for an attorney for Miller could not immediately be found.

Miller and Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven, Vermont, were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000, shortly after the state became the first in the country to recognize same-sex relationships.

The two women had a child through artificial insemination in 2002 and later broke up. Miller, the biological mother, moved to Virginia and was given custody, with the Vermont family court granting Jenkins the right to visit the child.

But Miller refused to comply with the court orders granting visitation.

Prosecutors say Lisa Miller and her daughter left their home in Winchester, Virginia, in 2009 when it became clear Miller would lose custody of Isabella, who is now an adult, and traveled to Buffalo. From there, they crossed into Canada and later flew from Toronto to Nicaragua.

Miller returned to the United States from Nicaragua last month and was arrested in Miami.

Isabella Miller turned 18 last year. She remains in Nicaragua, but said in court documents filed in federal court in Vermont earlier this month she would return to the United States, “if (and when) I desire."

Jenkins' Vermont lawyer Sarah Star declined Friday to comment on Miller's court appearance.