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2nd child dies after Pa. couple chooses prayer over doctors

By Maryclaire Dale & Michael Rubinkam

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:22 p.m. HST, Apr 23, 2013

PHILADELPHIA » 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 today 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 today.

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 today 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 today. "Whether their religion had anything to do with the death of their baby, we don't know."

Rubinkam reported from northeast Pennsylvania.

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Maili2 wrote:
The medical tools and medecine and doctors are God given, the point is to use what is God-given to help ourselves. They think it is Godly to ignore their child's health and not help their child? They are not religious, they are loco.
on April 23,2013 | 07:09AM
Anonymous wrote:
Eight month old baby??? How tragic.
on April 23,2013 | 07:14AM
busterb wrote:
on April 23,2013 | 07:40AM
BadBingo wrote:
They should be sterilized NOW! I actually get heartsick when I read about children being mistreated. My grandson was brain damaged at birth. My son and his wife fought for him until he died at 15 months. They would have done anything and everything to keep him alive. Then people like this treat their children like this. Disgusting and sickening that these pieces of s**t can and do reproduce.
on April 23,2013 | 07:42AM
Mediocrates wrote:
Murder. Two times. And what have we done to protect the innocent children and punish the inexcusible neglect that lead to their unnecessary deaths?
on April 23,2013 | 08:00AM
sayer wrote:
Not only is the lack of medical care bizarre but it's also really unusual to have life threatening illness from diarrhea in an 8-year old child. I'm sure the judge in this case is feeling serious regret.
on April 23,2013 | 08:31AM
fluke wrote:
prison or sterilization!
on April 23,2013 | 08:36AM
silvangold wrote:
HA . prison AND sterilization is the way, the only way for these animals!!!!!!!!!!!
on April 23,2013 | 12:58PM
onwardupward wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on April 23,2013 | 09:32AM
daniwitz13 wrote:
You must also be a Homosexual Zealot to use the word "NEVER" to cover for them. It's like the Religious saying a Priest would NEVER do such a horrible thing. So you MUST be wrong. Then in one breath you mention the 'miracle of birth' and in the next breath you disparage it by saying it is NOT the major purpose, to reproduce. On one side you say you're saying it is Good and then it's bad. You have the wrong notion that Conservatives believe that "relationships" should only be between one Man and one Woman. So you prefer maybe three men with five Woman? If you are talking about 'relationships', anything is possible. One can even have a 'relationship' with their dog for that matter. I really can't tell where you are going with this. No Person, or Religion will say flat out that "such a union" is to reproduce. Are you talking about 'relationships' or Marriage? Religion for one is NOT in the equation for Marriage, don't add apples to Oranges. Yes, though, EVERYONE will admit that ONLY a Male and Female can make babies, (Create Life). If you know of another Formula, Please let the word know. Pity.
on April 23,2013 | 11:31AM
olos73 wrote:
Seven other children? Good thing they're in foster care. Already 2 died, don't let them make it 3. They should never be allowed to raise anymore children.
on April 23,2013 | 11:03AM
cojef wrote:
Jehovah Witnesses also cannot have blood tranfusions, thus preclude any surgical operations that will require blood transfusions, meaning most of the cardio/pulmonogical cases. Younger brother had heart problems and died in his early 60's. He possibly could have lived longer. Miss him dearly.
on April 23,2013 | 11:57AM
silvangold wrote:
OMG WHY are these people ALLOWED .. thats right, ALLOWED to produce 7 children ... 9 with the 2 dead ones. they BOTH should be FIXED....yes, like dogs - FIXED.
on April 23,2013 | 12:53PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Du*b Sh*ts.
on April 23,2013 | 05:17PM
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