Moral Low Ground


‘Faith Healing’ Parents Catherine and Herbert Schaible Sentenced for Death of Second Child

A Philadelphia couple whose two children died after being denied medical care in favor of prayer-based “faith healing” will spend years behind bars.

WPVI reports Catherine Schaible, 44, and her husband, 45-year-old Herbert Schaible, were sentenced to 3½ to seven years in prison for the 2013 death of their 8-month old son Brandon. The pneumonia-stricken infant was suffering from diarrhea, breathing problems and loss of appetite, but the Schaibles rejected medical treatment in favor of what they believed was the power of prayer. Their ‘faith healing’ did not work, Brandon died, and the couple was charged with third-degree murder. They pleaded no contest.

Tragically, Brandon was the Schaible’s second child to die from treatable pneumonia after being denied medical care. The couple was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years’ probation in connection with the 2009 death of 2-year-old Kent. Their probation was conditional upon their seeking medical attention in the event that any of their children ever got sick.

But Herbert Schaible told police last year that the family’s religious beliefs– they are members of the First Century Gospel Church, a Pentecostal church, in Northeast Philadelphia– prohibited the use of medicine.

“We believe in divine healing, that Jesus shed blood for our healing and that he died on the cross to break the devil’s power,” he told investigators.

There is no scientific evidence that ‘faith healing’ can cure any illness.

Judge Benjamin Lerner placed the blame for the children’s deaths squarely on the Schaibles.

“You’ve killed two of your children… not God, not your church, not religious devotion– you,” said Lerner as he sentenced the couple.

“April 2013 wasn’t Brandon’s time to die,” the judge stated.

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, who prosecuted both cases, told WPVI that the tragedy of Brandon’s death was predictable.

“It was so foreseeable to me that this was going to happen,” said Pescatore. “Everybody in the system failed these children.”

“The [district attorney] is actually right,” Catherine Schaible agreed. “I feel like I’ve failed as a mother because they’re not alive.”

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