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Faith healing parents sent to prison for death of son

Herbert and Catherine Schaible
Herbert and Catherine SchaiblePhiladelphia Police Department

Faith healing parents Herbert and Catherine Schaible will be spending the next three and a half to seven years behind bars after pleading no contest to third-degree murder in the death of their infant son, Brandon, according to a Feb. 19 report issued by USA Today.

By their own admission the Philadelphia couple failed to provide appropriate medical care for their child, choosing prayer over modern medicine, with tragic consequence.

The Schaible’s son, Brandon Schaible, died on April 18 at the family home in Rhawnhurst, Philadelphia, from bacterial pneumonia, severe dehydration and an infection, after his parents withheld medical care, praying for their sick child instead of seeking the routine medical attention that would have saved the boy’s life.

The fundamentalist Christian parents failed to get medical attention for their 8-month-old son, despite the fact that the child was suffering with diarrhea and breathing problems for days before succumbing to his illness.

Adding insult to injury, the couple was already on probation after a jury convicted them of involuntary manslaughter in 2010 for the faith healing death of their 2-year-old son, Kent.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner told Herbert and Catherine Schaible on Wednesday that it wasn't 8-month-old Brandon's time to die. He said: "You've killed two of your children... not God, not your church, not religious devotion -- you."

After Brandon’s death last April, the dead boy’s father, Herbert Schaible, 44, told Philadelphia homicide detectives the following: "We believe in divine healing, that Jesus shed blood for our healing and that he died on the cross to break the devil's power. Medicine is against our religious beliefs."

Both Schaibles gave statements to homicide detectives after Brandon's April 18 death, in which they admitted they did not follow the terms of their probation.

"My husband and I decided we wanted to trust in God," Catherine Schaible told detectives, explaining why they did not take Brandon to a doctor.

The Schaibles attended the First Century Gospel Church, a fundamentalist congregation that believes in faith healing and prayer over science and medicine for the treatment of illnesses and injuries. Their pastor, Nelson Clark, said the Schaibles lost their sons because of a “spiritual lack” in their lives.

While most reasonable people agree the Schaibles belong behind bars, some may be disappointed in the leniency of the sentence. While the Schaible’s were sentenced to three and a half to seven years in state prison, they were facing 20 years or more after pleading no contest to third-degree murder in their son Brandon's death.

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