News

Faith-healing couple who lost their second son are charged with third-degree murder

FOLLOWING our report last month that a US couple – Herbert and Catherine Schaible – were under investigation for failing to seek medication attention when their seven-month-old son Brandon fell ill and later died, it has been confirmed that the parents, who believe only prayer can heal, have been charged with third-degree murder and other offences.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible after their arrest

Herbert and Catherine Schaible after their arrest

This was the second time the couple lost a child to illness. They were sentenced to 10 years probation after the 2009 death of their 2-year-old son Kent. Kent died after contracting pneumonia, an illness prosecutors said could have been prevented with basic medical care.

With Brandon’s death, prosecutors allege the couple violated their probation by not taking the baby to the doctor.

The Schaibles, according to this report, are members of the First Century Gospel Church in Philadelphia. Founded in 1925, it is an offshoot the Faith Tabernacle Congregation.

Families who attend Faith Tabernacle Congregation in North Philadelphia and First Century Gospel Church in Juniata Park have lost more than two dozen children to illness since 1971, according to non-profit Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc. (CHILD, Inc.). Both churches believe in the power of prayer over modern medicine.

In 1991, Faith Tabernacle lost five children to the measles after an outbreak. One child from First Century Gospel also died.

Dean Heilman was 22-months-old when he bled to death as a result of his haemophilia. His parents, Dean and Susan, were charged with involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to probation in 1997, according to court records.

Court records also show Annemarie and Daniel Foster were also charged in 1997 with endangering the welfare of their son Patrick. The two-year-old went months without treatment for a tumour. The Fosters were given probation and got Patrick treatment, according to CHILD, Inc. He died in 2007.

One member of First Tabernacle Thursday spoke about the church’s beliefs. John, who refused to give his surname, said:

The church believe that people get sick because they’re not doing the right thing. God promised us that if we do his will, that there’s no infection; all these diseases that you name, would not come to you.

“John” says he believes the congregation is being persecuted for their beliefs.

The “persecution” charge was repeated here by the couple’s lawyer Bobby Hoof after the Schaibles were denied bail last Friday, two days after their arrest. If convicted they could face 14 years in jail. Hoof said:

He is incarcerated because of his faith.

Dr Paul Offit, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says a parent’s faith should not trump their children’s health.

Although you are allowed to martyr yourself to your religion, you are not allowed to martyr your child to your religion.

Offit is now writing a book about the 1991 measles outbreak. He says Pennsylvania’s laws need to be changed to prevent additional faith-healing related deaths from happening.

In the State of Pennsylvania, there are religious exemptions to child abuse and neglect laws, we are backward in that sense. I think we need to eliminate those exemptions.

Hat tip: Andy Brown

 

 

26 Responses to “Faith-healing couple who lost their second son are charged with third-degree murder”

  1. Daz says:

    In the State of Pennsylvania, there are religious exemptions to child abuse and neglect laws, we are backward in that sense. I think We need to eliminate those exemptions.

    Fixed that for him.

  2. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Religion should never be allowed exemptions from laws.

  3. Broga says:

    And yet the UK government continues to encourage faith schools and faith communities and the assorted weird and potentially destructive beliefs to which they adhere.

  4. JohnMWhite says:

    What are these exemptions Offit refers to? Clearly they don’t extend to the cases of either child this couple lost, because they were arrested and charged both times. I’m curious what laws could possibly be on the books that give religious people license to abuse and neglect children.

  5. Buffy says:

    They should both be sterilized and imprisoned for life. There’s no excuse for what they did–and get nothing but prayer for any illnesses or injuries they receive while imprisoned. Let’s see how well God heals them when they’re shanked.

  6. Stephen Mynett says:

    Is it just peculiar exemptions in the law or is it also a cause of courts giving religion the benefit of the doubt, the latter would not surprise me at all.

    The couple who allowed their haemophiliac son to die should have known exactly what would happen if he was denied treatment. Even in the backward world of their church they would have been able to and should have known a little about the condition.

    In the case where a child dies because of a mystery ailment there is a modicum of defence as they can claim they did not realise the severity but with the bleeder there is no defence and that is child neglect as well as involuntary manslaughter, although I would call it manslaughter as they knew the possible outcome of denting treatment.

    Whatever, probation is a pathetic sentence and that clearly shows religious bias by the court and jury.

  7. 1859 says:

    What fucking crap! ‘He’s incarcerated because of his faith’ He has been incarcerated because of his blind stupidity – a stupidity that rejects 200 years of medical progress in preference to magic. But no doubt he believes his dead child is in the arms of the sky daddy….how many times can we write ‘poor kid to have been born into a arms of religious madmen and women’? ?

  8. [...] Faith-healing couple who lost their second son are charged with third-degree murder [...]

  9. DredOne says:

    While some continue to die in waiting rooms & others for lack of adequate medical insurance, some go to jail for rejecting treatment for their children.
    If the children are legally the property of the state, are not ALL the children her responsibility?
    All Americans suffer some form of Stockholm Syndrome. Are any of them really responsible for any of their actions?
    Too brainwashed to revolt. We may yet see anti-democracy riots.

  10. T says:

    Fuckwits

  11. barriejohn says:

    DredOne: Children are not the property of the state, but their welfare should be its concern, backed up by law. You make a valid point though – it’s another quid pro quo, and constant vigilance is required!

  12. Ex Patriot says:

    Prayer, nothing more than talking to yourself and in this and many other cases it can be seen how well it works,religion is poison

  13. AgentCormac says:

    They believe that ‘only prayer can heal’. The evidence has clearly shown otherwise. Twice.

  14. Matt+Westwood says:

    Look at the face of that poor woman. She’s utterly controlled by, and frightened to death by, that inhuman monster who calls her his wife.

    I’ve seen that expression before on the faces of women in similar situations. I wouldn’t call her completely blameless, but I doubt she has much control over her circumstances.

  15. Lazy+Susan says:

    Ex Patriot – “Prayer, nothing more than talking to yourself and in this and many other cases it can be seen how well it works”

    I bet you that piece of evidence will be explained away. God called the children to him. Our faith was weak. etc

  16. charlie says:

    Religion, killing innocent children the world over. Religion is a disgusting thing and serves no useful purpose.

  17. JohnMWhite says:

    @Matt Westwood: Ahaha the man is actually a woman because he’s weak and lets a woman boss him around!! How droll…

    Meanwhile, back in the 21st century… @DredOne: Not sure where you got the idea that children are the property of the state in the US, but France at least has proven that brainwashed people can still have a good riot if they put their minds to it. Tens of thousands of protesters, upset over gay people being allowed to marry (because that just harms everyone somehow), kicked off in Paris.

  18. DredOne says:

    I discuss practice not Orwellian New Speak.
    ~but to quote a “mel brooke’s”(?) movie ..
    A riot is a very ugly thing & it is high time that we had one!

  19. Ex Patriot says:

    Lazy+Susan
    You are most likely correct in your statement, I am sure the godbots will find a way to put a spin on this and the rest of the brain dead will believe it,but as far as I’m concerned it is still talking to an idiot,yourself

  20. Marky Mark says:

    (The church believe that people get sick because they’re not doing the right thing. God promised us that if we do his will, that there’s no infection; all these diseases that you name, would not come to you.)
    …Hummm, two year old and infants are not doing the right thing?
    What exactly does this all powerful and loving god expect of these babys?

    this comment defies is exactly how we should perceive all religious folks…Dead-nuts, crazy!

  21. JRW says:

    Whether one agrees with what others do or say is irrelevant in terms of freedom of speech and action. The manner in which one disagrees is a accurate indication of that person’s attitude to the world and whether they are peacekeepers or not.

  22. Georgina says:

    Modern medicine = modern Biology = Evolution = Hell.
    Poor misguided, brainwashed people. Their church should also be held culpable.

  23. Mujadji says:

    Let these idiots believe what they want to (the whole live and let live thingy) and let’s freely allow them not to contribute to the gene pool. Simple eh?

  24. Kevin says:

    I read Philadelphia Inquirer daily – been following this case closely.

    Interesting (very sad) twist:

    In the trial proceedings for the death of the first child in 2009, one of the Schaible’s defense attorneys took the rare action of petitioning the judge AGAINST his client – telling the judge that in his expert opinion, there was absolutely no chance of the Schaible’s following the Court Order requiring future medical care &/or intervention for their other children – and demanded that Child Welfare Services be asigned the case.

    Tragically, he judge ignored this plea, and only placed the Schaible’s under care of the Probation Department, which is ill-suited to effectively monitor such a situation. The judge declared that PA law did not allow the Deprtment of Health Services (DHS) to intervene on a child’s behalf in cases of religious based actions related to medical care, but the this was not the accurate. Who knows if a caseworker involved could have saved the second child, but it is a definite possibility.

    That judge is now retired, and living in Florida.