A Philadelphia couple violated probation after their second child died as a result of them turning to prayer instead of seeking a doctor when the child was ill.
The Philadelphia couple was serving a 10-year probation sentence stemming from the death of their first child, after Herbert and Catherine Schaible prayed for their child instead of seeking medical care, reports the Associated Press.
The Schaibles belong to a fundamentalist Christian church, First Century Gospel Church, that practices faith healing, reports Philadelphia Daily News. The couple was on probation for the death of their 2-year-old son, Kent Schaible, who died of pneumonia in 2009. Herbert and Catherine Schaible pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2011 and were sentenced to 10 years of probation, with one major component being the couple seek medical care for their children if they became sick, notes AP.
The First Century Gospel Church’s website cites scripture passages they say prove that those who believe will be healed.
With the death of 8-month-old Brandon Schaible last week, after suffering from breathing problems and diarrhea for several days, the couple from the Philadelphia neighborhood of Rhawnhurst violated their probation and could face criminal charges, reports Philadelphia Daily News.
Police could file criminal charges after they complete their investigation and determine the baby’s cause of death, notes AP.
The couple was in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court on Monday, and Judge Benjamin Lerner had stern words for the Schaibles. Judge Lerner said during the hearing, “I am sorry for your loss. Deeply sorry," he continued. "But in all honesty, I am more sorry for the fact that this innocent little child will not be able to grow up to be what he wanted to be,” reports Philadelphia Daily News. The couple has seven more children that were removed from the Schaibles’ home by the Department of Human Services.
The Schaibles believed prayer was the best course of treatment for their child and gave statements to police on Friday night, shortly after a funeral home the couple called notified the medical examiner. In the statement, the couple said: “Because we believe God wants us to ask him for healing,” as the reason for not seeking medical care for their child.
Lerner did not order the couple to prison to await sentencing, believing the Schaibles were not a threat to society or the community, but did note he believed they were a danger to their seven children. Lerner also said the couple “knowingly, intentionally, hypocritically and callously violated” their probation, notes Philadelphia Daily News.
The Schaibles could face five to 10 years in prison if found guilty for violating their probation.