Kara Neumann’s Father Faces Homicide Charges July 29, 2009

Kara Neumann’s Father Faces Homicide Charges

Madeline Kara Neumann was the 11-year-old girl killed by her parents because they prayed for her when she was deadly sick instead of taking her to a doctor.

In May, her mother, Leilani Neumann, was found guilty of second-degree reckless homicide. She will be sentenced in October and could face up to 25 years in prison. I hope she receives the full penalty.

Now, it’s the dad’s turn. Dale Neumann faces the same second-degree reckless homicide charge.

His wife testified on his behalf and what she said was just appalling. To begin with, she thought her daughter’s sickness was just God testing her faith.

Leilani Neumann also said that she did not realize her daughter was seriously ill until the day before her death, when the girl was weak and pale and had trouble speaking.

“I asked her if she loved Jesus,” the mother testified. “She might have said yes. I know for sure she was acknowledging it. What sounds came out, I don’t remember. She was making noises. … My focus definitely was to pray.”

She said she never once believed the girl would die.

“We thought even the lifelessness was something that she would come out of,” the mother said. “Everything for us is about faith. It is about trusting in God. We either believe in God’s word or we don’t.”

What’s really sad about all this is that there are people out there who want parents like this to avoid getting punished. They want religious exemptions for failed faith-healers.

They don’t deserve it. If you kill yourself because of your religious beliefs, so be it. If you take someone else’s life because of your irrational beliefs, you should get the harshest penalty possible.

I say this with the knowledge that the parents didn’t desire to kill their daughter. They really believed God would heal her. But they’re adults who should have known better than to avoid a doctor.

(Thanks to Jeff for the link!)

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  • This infuriates me. When people let a child die because they are stupid enough to believe in magic, it makes my blood boil.

    I understand that this is not an intentional killing; it is a homocide out of ignorance. But I still believe that concessions can not be made for faith-healers.

    If you kill someone because of your irrational beliefs, you have committed the same crime as a terrorist.

  • Jessica

    It makes me wonder what they think of their god now…

  • Jim

    I have the same thought as Jessica.

    I have no doubt as to the conviction of the parents that they were doing what they thought was the correct thing. There is no doubt that they had as much faith as anyone could ever have and yet it answered for nothing and got their precious child killed.

    I can only hope that some fringe parents out there that were considering something like this, see it and fully comprehend the failure and it stops them from committing the same crime.

  • Delphine

    At least they’re being charged (and looks like they’re also being convicted) of murder. How many people have we heard were let off the hook recently for the same crime?

  • Dan W

    Those parents deserve to be locked up for life. When are idiotic religious zealots like them going to realize that it’s medical treatment, by doctors, that helps save people’s lives, and not prayer?

  • rest

    Will they still think their god is testing them when they’re sitting in their prison cells? Disgusting. I hope they don’t preach to the other prisoners.

  • Axel

    Yes, what these ‘parents’ did was utterly repulsive. But do you really think the ‘lock-them-up-for-the-rest-of-their-lives-and-throw-away-the-keys’-doctrine will change anything?
    How about a public execution? Castrate the guy so it’s impossible he won’t do this again?
    Why do we forget everything we learned about rehabilitation we learned during the last decades when it comes to judging what religious weirdos do?

  • jemand

    I think a lot of this is due to the stupid “faith as a child” verse. If not, if faith were widely thought to be something you had to practice with, parents would take their children to the hospital because they needed time to practice their faith to the point of the parents in order to avoid real medicine…

    Unfortunately the “faith as a child” verse means they think their children are better able at faith healing than they are.

  • BoomWav

    I can’t believe things like that still happens nowadays.

  • Helen

    There’s this joke about the flood. The flood’s coming and authorities are is evacuating the village, except an old an righteous man who is not willing to go, because God will save him. Later, the military is trying to fix things up to keep down damages, and when they leave, they’re trying to take the righteous man with them, but he won’t, because God will help him. Finally, he’s sitting in the middle of the water on the top of his roof. A helicopter comes along and tries to rescue him but he won’t go up the ladder, because God will save him. finally he dies and finds himself at heaven’s gate. There he meets Peter and in deep distress, tells him that in spite of his deep belief, God has let him die. So Peter takes him to God for an explanation. And God says: What do you say, I didn’t rescue you?? I sent you the local authorities! Then I sent you the military! And finally I even sent you a helicopter!!!

    So you could even make a case that they are wrong in their own belief system.

    As to the parents: this was not an accident, but a homicide (though not intentional). It has to be made clear that parents don’t get away with abusing their kids, especially for the sake of the kids who are still alive but may find themselves in the same situation. It has to be clear to no child will be left in the custody of a parent whose religion is a threat to the kid’s wellbeing (defined as the chance to grow up and establish an autonomous identity).
    For rehabilitation, you have to lock away the parents from their church. Also, you will have to take care for the rest of their kids.

  • Helen

    An appropriate but not humane punishment would be to put the parents in a cage with no food and drink and tell them to pray to their god to provide it. Receving gifts from bystanders is not allowed, as it was not allowed for the kid to receive treatment since that comes not directly from god.

  • Ron in Houston

    I subscribe to the theory that prisons are for the people we’re afraid of rather than those we’re mad at.

    I don’t think they should escape punishment, but I just don’t see much positive from “locking them up and throwing away the key.”

  • I agree with Ron in Houston. I’m angry that the parents would allow their daughter to die like that, but locking them up forever may not fix the problem. Some punishment is necessary, but rehabilitation should be the focus so this isn’t repeated.

  • One question I haven’t seen answered in any of the news coverage is what church this family went to. Unfortunately, there are a lot of very impressionable people out there, and even though these parents should be held accountable for what they did, why isn’t anyone interested in who the Pastor was who brainwashed them into this sort of thinking.

    In my point of view, whoever the teacher/pastor was who taught them that it’s a sin to take their children to the doctor is just as much to blame as anyone else. They should mention his name and his church’s name in these news stories because he probably has an entire church of people to whom he is probably teaching precisely the same thing.

  • I want to reinforce Hemant Mehta’s point about ending the religious exemptions for parents who idly sit by and watch their children die.

    If live in Wisconsin and you want to end this type of religiously motivated-abuseand restore full-access to health care for these children, whose parents are unfortunately sincere in their beliefs like the Neumanns, please contact your state legislator and ask them to support LRB-2190.


  • I talked about this a bit on my blog a few weeks back, and I’ve posted a followup about Dale Neumann’s conviction. I really want to encourage the debate, because religious exceptions for what would otherwise be deemed child abuse shouldn’t be tolerated anymore.

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