Herbert and Catherine Schaible faced a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania judge for sentencing yesterday, after their sick 8-month-old was not taken in for medical treatment, and died from his symptoms. Yahoo News reported young Brandon had treatable pneumonia. The Schaible's religious beliefs, however, prevented them from seeking the medical attention the baby so desperately needed to save his life. This after already having been convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of their 2-year old, Kent, in 2009. Young Kent and Brandon suffered what prosecutors called "eerily similar" symptoms, both dying due to lack of necessary attention by medical professionals.
The Schaible's are part of a Pentecostal community, attending the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia. The Juniata Park congregation teaches healing comes from prayer and that turning to medicine or doctors shows a lack of faith in God. After the senseless death of a second son, church pastor Nelson Clark, also blamed the couple for the baby's death, saying it was because of "spiritual lack" in their lives that the child died. The Inquisitr reported Catherine Schaible, 44, told Judge Benjamin Lerner,
“My religious beliefs are that you should pray, and not have to use medicine. But because it is against the law, whatever sentence you give me, I will accept.”
Later, she admitted her beliefs had changed. Yahoo News wrote that Judge Benjamin Lerner rejected defense claims that their religious beliefs "clashed" with the 2011 court order to get annual checkups and call a doctor if any child became ill. The Schaible's were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Kent's death. Lerner said,
"April of 2013 wasn't Brandon's time to die. You've killed two of your children. Not God. Not your church. Not religious devotion — you."
Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, who prosecuted both cases, admitted the system has failed both children. She and public defender Mythri Jayaraman asked the judge after the first death, to have the family supervised by a Department of Human Services caseworker. The judge instead assigned probation officers to the family, who are not trained to monitor the welfare of children.
Philly.com reported the Schaible's being devoted, loving parents who were a danger to no one except their own children. The Schaible's gave brief statements before sentencing, saying they were sorry about their sons' deaths and wished they "could trade places with them." Herbert Schaible is detained at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Center. However, Lerner allowed Catherine to remain free until March 12 so she and the children can celebrate her daughter's 11th birthday.
Of their seven surviving children, good news for six, as some are in foster care and others with relatives. They now attend public schools for the first time, and are getting medical, dental and vision care, several of who now wear glasses.
Experts say about a dozen U.S. children die in faith-healing cases each year, believing prayer for healing over medicine.
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