A couple of religious fundamentalists from Canada who let their 14-month-old son die by failing to get him medical treatment just got 32 months each in prison.
Jennifer and Jeromie Clark, who were arrested for failing to take their son John to the hospital until he was actually near death, were convicted by a jury in Calgary late last year. They were found guilty of criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessities of life.
A judge sentenced them to nearly three years each in prison in the hope that the punishment will deter other would-be criminals. However, the punishment could have been up to five years each.
John Clark was brought to hospital with a blistering rash covering most of his body.
Medical witnesses testified that if the boy had seen doctors earlier, he almost certainly would have survived.
A forensic pathologist’s report said he was malnourished and died from a staph infection.
In handing down the sentence Wednesday, Justice Paul Jeffrey said the couple displayed regret and genuine remorse over John’s death.
“In most every respect the offenders are described as model citizens, compassionate of others, amazing parents,” he said.
They’re model citizens… if you just ignore the murder of their child.
The malnourishment was reportedly caused by the parents’ extreme interpretation of the Seventh-day Adventist religion, which they believe requires a strict vegan diet. Because of their misguided faith, they attempted to treat a staph infection with vegetables rather than going to a doctor.
The trial jury was also shown screenshots of online searches for natural remedies for gangrene, such as cabbage leaves and cayenne.
Prosecutors argued the Clarks waited too long to take the seriously ill boy to hospital and their sentence should send a message of denunciation and deterrence.
I don’t necessarily believe that a 32-month sentence will deter other parents acting on their faith, but it’s better than a complete lack of punishment for parents on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs, which we’ve also seen in similar situations.
(Screenshot via CTV News. Thanks to Jay for the link)