Christian Businessman Convicted of Aiding a Birth Mother in an International Parental Kidnapping to Save Her Child from Sexual Exploitation and Indoctrination.


Buffalo, New York:  Philip Zodhiates of Waynesboro, Virginia, has filed a motion with the trial judge to vacate his sentence for his 2016 conviction for aiding and abetting an “International Parental Kidnapping” in connection with assisting Lisa Miller and her then seven-year old daughter with leaving the country in 2009.

According to trial transcripts, their departure was related to family-court orders in Vermont for visitation rights with Lisa’s former civil union partner – a relationship that had been dissolved.  Lisa and her natural-born daughter, Isabella, lived in Virginia with full custody where she battled in the courts over the visitation rights.  According to Zodhiates, what was hidden from the jury and court was the obvious trauma from apparent abuse that Isabella endured during the court ordered unsupervised visitations.  Virginia’s Defense of Marriage Amendment to its Constitution forbade the Virginia courts from recognizing the Vermont civil union, and Isabella’s Virginia birth certificate lists Lisa as her only parent.  Both lived in Virginia when Isabella was born.

Zodhiates contended with his attorneys before trial that protecting Isabella from abuse should be the primary focus of his defense, but the lawyers argued if the alleged abuse was revealed to the jury it would show motive on behalf of Zodhiates, so it would be a losing strategy.  However, Zodhiates, two years after trial, learned that there was an “affirmative defense” for “violent abuse” written into the statute under which he was convicted along with case precedence in another International Parental Kidnapping case in which a mother’s sentence was vacated because the definition of “violent abuse” in the affirmative defense was left up to the jury to decide its meaning while the U.S. Department of Justice clearly defines it can be “physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.”

“My attorneys never informed me of the affirmative defense for abuse in the statute,” Zodhiates contends in his motion to vacate based on ineffective counsel.  In his motion, he also cites federal case precedence that the abuse need not be proven, but the defendant must have a reasonable basis for the belief there was abuse.  “And this is what the Petitioner was told and therefore what he believed, Zodhiates says in his brief to Western District Federal Court Judge Richard Arcara, which also included significant documentation of why he reasonably believed there was abuse.”  He further states, “Also, counsel even knew that this defense was built into the statute before trial and still failed to raise it as insisted by the Petitioner.”

Zodhiates all along contended he broke no laws, as Lisa Miller, also charged on the same indictment, had full custody of her child at the time she left the country.  However, this affirmative defense for abuse built into the statute alone signifies Lisa Miller had every right to leave the country and did not break any laws.  Hence, Zodhiates claims “they should never have been indicted, I should never have been tried, and I should never have been convicted.  Adequate counsel would have demonstrated this to the court and jury based on his belief the abuse happened, as well as case precedence.”

One year of Zodhiates three-year sentence has already been served at Ashland Federal Correctional Institution in Kentucky, where Zodhiates claims he is being held as a political prisoner.


(For interview with Philip Zodhiates, questions must be submitted in writing to:  Philip Zodhiates 18649-084, Ashland FCI, Ashland Federal Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 6001.)

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