PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A couple who believed in faith-healing were sentenced today to 3½ to seven years in prison in the death of a second child who never saw a doctor despite being stricken with pneumonia.
Herbert and Catherine Schaible defied a court order to get medical care for their children after their 2-year-old son, Kent, died in 2009. Instead, they tried to comfort and pray over 8-month-old Brandon last year as he, too, died of treatable pneumonia.
"My religious beliefs are that you should pray, and not have to use medicine. But because it is against the law, then whatever sentence you give me, I will accept," Catherine Schaible, 44, told the judge. She added that her beliefs have since changed.
The Schaibles are third-generation members of an insular Pentecostal community, the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia, where they also taught at the church school. They have seven surviving children.
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 a child became ill. The order came after a jury convicted them of involuntary manslaughter in Kent's death, and they were sentenced to 10 years of probation.
"April of 2013 wasn't Brandon's time to die," Lerner said, noting the violence committed throughout human history in the name of religion. "You've killed two of your children. ... Not God. Not your church. Not religious devotion. You."