No jail time in faith-healing case

A fundamentalist Christian couple convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in connection with their 2-year-old son’s death was sentenced to 10 years probation yesterday. They were also ordered to take their seven children, ranging in age from 12 months to 15 years old, for regular medical checkups and “immediately consulting with a doctor” when a child gets sick.

When their son Kent fell ill in 2009, Herbert and Catherine Schaible prayed rather than seeking medical attention. After a two-week illness, he died.

“It’s a fair sentence. All I wanted was to make sure the other children are protected. Hopefully, that’s what this sentence does,” said assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore.

Shawn Peters, author of a book about “faith healing,” estimated about 12 similar cases annually.

“It seems fairly typical of the punishments meted out in these cases,” Peters said. “Judges generally seem reluctant to make the parents serve much time behind bars.”

Herbert Schaible said he was remorseful and prays every day as he’s still in mourning.

At their “faith healing” trial in December, a social worker testified Herbert said his family doesn’t go to the doctors or take medicine pursuant to religious beliefs at First Century Gospel Church in Juniata. The Schaibles maintained they didn’t realize Kent was deathly ill.

A status listing is scheduled for June to determine whether the probation terms are being followed.

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