In March of 2012, 19-month-old Ezekiel Stephan died of meningitis — a disease involving the inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord. Very serious problem. The condition can sometimes be treated with antibiotics or antiviral drugs, but even then, it’s a long shot for full recovery.
What’s appalling is what his parents did as he was suffering.
David Stephan and wife Collet Stephan, who live in Alberta, Canada, gave their son a series of home remedies:
In a bid to boost his immune system, the couple gave the boy — who was lethargic and becoming stiff — various home remedies, such as water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries and finally a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horse radish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root as his condition deteriorated.
Court heard the couple on tape explaining to the police officer that they prefer naturopathic remedies because of their family’s negative experiences with the medical system.
The Stephans run a nutritional supplements company called Truehope Nutritional Support Inc. out of Raymond, Alta.
The Stephans didn’t give their son the vaccine that normally helps prevent meningitis.
Normally, when we hear stories like this, of children whose parents neglect to take them to a doctor when they’re clearly in need of help, it’s because the parents belong to some religious sect that forbids outside medical help.
I’ve never heard of parents who let their child die because they thought maple syrup would cure his debilitating disease.
Earlier this year, the Stephans explained their all-bullshit approach to medicine to a jury.
It didn’t work. In April, the jury found them guilty:
The maximum penalty for failing to provide the necessaries of life is five years in prison.
Justice Rodney Jerke did not set a sentencing date. That’s to be decided at a court appearance on June 13. The Stephans were not taken into custody.
“This case is not yet over, but a big chapter has come to a close,” Jerke said.
He noted that you only had to look at the faces of the jurors to tell “this was a difficult case.”
Crown prosecutor Lisa Weich said the charge of failing to provide the necessaries of life ensures that people who cannot care for themselves receive the minimal standard of care expected by society.
“They definitely, definitely loved their son but as stated in our closing arguments, unfortunately sometimes love just isn’t enough,” Weich said outside court. “Parents still have to follow a standard of care as set by criminal law.”
Did you catch that? The maximum sentence was 5 years in prison.
The actual sentence, which came down this week, wasn’t even close to that.
A father has been sentenced to four months in jail and his wife to three months of house arrest after being found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life for their 19-month-old son, who died from bacterial meningitis.
Justice Rodney Jerke said the Stephans were caring parents and neither intended to put the boy’s life at risk.
So their well-intentioned homicidal ignorance resulted in a more lenient sentence.
By the way, Collet’s “house arrest” isn’t even that. She’s allowed to leave the house to go to church.
If there’s any upside to the sentencing, it’s the the Court wants to make sure the couple’s other children aren’t going to be in harm’s way. To that end, the judge said their three remaining kids will have to see a (real) doctor once a year and a public health nurse four times a year.