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2nd child of couple dies after not seeking medical attention
April 23, 2013 at 10:00 PM

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A couple serving probation for the 2009 death of their toddler after they turned to prayer instead of a doctor could face new charges now that another son has died.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible belong to a fundamentalist Christian church that believes in faith healing. They lost their 8-month-old son, Brandon, last week after he suffered from diarrhea and breathing problems for at least a week, and stopped eating. Four years ago, another son died from bacterial pneumonia.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that a decision on charges will be made after they get the results of an autopsy.

Catherine Schaible's attorney, Mythri Jayaraman, cautioned against a rush to judgment, and said the couple are good parents deeply distraught over the loss of another child.

"There are way more questions than answers at this point. We haven't seen the autopsy report. We don't know the cause of death of this child," Jayaraman told The Associated Press. "What we do know is Mr. and Mrs. Schaible are distraught, they are grieving, they are tremendously sad about the loss of their most recent baby."

A man who answered the phone at a listing for Herbert Schaible declined to comment and hung up.

A jury convicted the Schaibles of involuntary manslaughter in the January 2009 death of their 2-year-old son, Kent. The boy's symptoms had included coughing, congestion, crankiness and a loss of appetite. His parents said he was eating and drinking until the last day, and they had thought he was getting better.

The Schaibles were sentenced to 10 years' probation.

At a hearing Monday, a judge told the couple they had violated the terms of their probation, noting the Schaibles had told investigators that they prayed to God to make Brandon well instead of seeking medical attention.

"You did that once, and the consequences were tragic," Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

Prosecutors on Monday sought to have the couple jailed, but Lerner permitted them to remain free because their seven other children had been placed in foster care.

"He feels they are a danger to their children — not to the community, but to their own children," Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, who prosecuted the couple in 2010, said Tuesday.

Herbert Schaible, 44, and his 43-year-old wife grew up in the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia and have served as teachers there. The church's website has a sermon titled "Healing — From God or Medicine?" that quotes Bible verses purportedly forbidding Christians from visiting doctors or taking medicine.

"It is a definite sin to trust in medical help and pills; and it is real faith to trust on the Name of Jesus for healing," says the message, from last May.

A phone message left with the church on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

The church's pastor said in 2010 that the couple had never received medical care themselves beyond the help of a lay midwife who attends home births.

The Schaibles did take their children for medical checkups as required by their probation, according to Jayaraman, the defense attorney. Jayaraman said that Brandon was checked by a doctor when he was 10 days old, but she did not know whether the child had seen a doctor since.

"Nobody argues that these aren't very loving, nurturing parents," she said Tuesday. "Whether their religion had anything to do with the death of their baby, we don't know."

Replies

  • Firenygirl180
    April 23, 2013 at 10:04 PM
    You would think after the first child died they would have taken this child to a doctor.

    It is very sad that they lost 2 kids.


    I also don't rush my kids to the doctor for every little thing. But if things get worse or they have an ongoing fever i make an appointment.
  • Donnah118
    April 23, 2013 at 10:10 PM
    In a country fortunate for it's medicines and medical care THIS happens! Idiot parents!
  • Batmansmamma
    April 23, 2013 at 10:20 PM
    This is sad all the way around.
  • SewingMamaLele
    April 23, 2013 at 10:34 PM
    I don't think they should be tried or convicted of anything. Medical care is a choice. Not taking advantage of it shouldn't be criminal. These parents clearly aren't malicious, they just have different beliefs, and as much as I disagree with those beliefs, it's their right to have them.
  • desertlvn
    April 23, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    What do think will happen if they use modern medicine? Hell?

  • lazycervix
    April 23, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    I am sorry but their right to freedom of religion ends where those childs rights begin. That child is not oldenough to make the choice to die on their own there for the parents should not be able to make it for them. This child died of dehydration which is increadibly painful and took days and days. 

    Quoting SewingMamaLele:

    I don't think they should be tried or convicted of anything. Medical care is a choice. Not taking advantage of it shouldn't be criminal. These parents clearly aren't malicious, they just have different beliefs, and as much as I disagree with those beliefs, it's their right to have them.


  • romalove
    April 23, 2013 at 10:47 PM


    Quoting SewingMamaLele:

    I don't think they should be tried or convicted of anything. Medical care is a choice. Not taking advantage of it shouldn't be criminal. These parents clearly aren't malicious, they just have different beliefs, and as much as I disagree with those beliefs, it's their right to have them.

    Only for themselves.

    It is criminal neglect not to give your child medical attention, for any reason, including religious views.  You can't let your child die because of your beliefs.

    Children don't get to choose.

    The child is just as dead if the parents are malicious as if they are seriously stupid.

  • lga1965
    by lga1965
    April 23, 2013 at 10:48 PM

     

    Quoting SewingMamaLele:

    I don't think they should be tried or convicted of anything. Medical care is a choice. Not taking advantage of it shouldn't be criminal. These parents clearly aren't malicious, they just have different beliefs, and as much as I disagree with those beliefs, it's their right to have them.

     You have got to be kidding? They let their child die, then let another one die even when they were advised and on parole for the death of the first one. They were criminally negligent. They shouldn't be allowed to have children ever if they will just let them die. It is not their right to let a child die because of some phony "religious belief". And it is phony. Doctors heal people, not a bunch of prayers.Anyone who "chooses"not to get medical care needs a psychiatrist.

  • FrumpyMama
    April 23, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    I just don't know how to comment. I pray for my kids to get better before and after they have gone to the doctor and the entire time they are sick, but I treat the illness. Prayer is powerful, but it doesn't always heal the body. 

  • lga1965
    by lga1965
    April 23, 2013 at 10:52 PM

     

    Quoting FrumpyMama:

    I just don't know how to comment. I pray for my kids to get better before and after they have gone to the doctor and the entire time they are sick, but I treat the illness. Prayer is powerful, but it doesn't always heal the body. 

     Exactly! That's a good thing.

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