Faith healing couple sentenced in baby’s death for failing to get medical help

Posted at 7:14 AM, Feb 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-20 09:14:48-05

By Haley Draznin

(CNN) — A Philadelphia judge sentenced a faith healing couple to up to seven years in state prison Wednesday for failing to seek medical care for their 7-month-old son, who died last year.

Catherine and Herbert Schaible turned to prayer rather than medicine to treat their son Brandon, who died in April from bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and strep, according to the district attorney’s office. The pneumonia and strep are treatable with antibiotics. The couple were sentenced to 3½ to seven years at the Criminal Justice Center in Center City.

The Schaibles are lifelong members of the First Century Gospel Church in Philadelphia, one of several religious groups in the U.S. that believes God alone heals the sick.

“Catherine is a completely devoted mother. While her way of caring for her children is clearly different than many, it doesn’t mean she cares for them any less,” Mythri Jayaraman, the Schaibles’ attorney, told CNN.

This is the second of their children to die because of their beliefs.

The Schaibles were already on probation for the 2009 death of another son, Kent, who also died from untreated bacterial pneumonia. A jury convicted the couple of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced them to 10 years probation.

Six of the couple’s seven remaining children will be in foster care, according to Jayarman.

CNN’s Sarah Hoye contributed to this report.

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