Couple Sentenced to Prison for Seeking Natural Remedies for Son’s Illness
Should the parents of a child who sought out a homeopathic treatment instead of traditional medicine for their son’s illness be punished if that treatment fails? An Alberta court says, ‘yes.’
Judge Rodney Jerke sentenced David Stephan to prison this week and his wife Collet Stephan to three months of house arrest. The couple was found ‘guilty’ earlier this year of failing to provide the necessaries of life to their 19-month-old son, Ezekiel, who contracted meningitis in 2012.
According to court documents, when their son became ill, the Stephans tried to treat Ezekiel with natural remedies of hot peppers, garlic, onions, and horseradish. Not until Ezekiel stopped breathing did the Stephans seek out traditional medical help by dialing 9-1-1.
The judge in the Stephans’ case called the couple “willfully blind” and blamed them for their son’s death.
“You have affected many people … your conduct has left an unerasable and chilling impact on all of us,” Jerke told the couple. “This case was about whether parents, who failed to take a sick boy to a doctor, should be held criminally responsible. The trial was not about vaccination. This is far beyond a child who simply has the sniffles.”
The judge said he acknowledged the fact that the parents loved and cared for their son, but called their alternative treatment a failure.
“Mr. Stephan’s post-conviction actions demonstrate a complete lack of remorse,” the judge said. “To this day he refuses to admit his actions had any impact.”