No jail time for prayer death couple

    A Philadelphia husband and wife whose religious aversion to modern medicine led to the death of their 2-year-old son will avoid jail time for their involuntary manslaughter conviction. 

    The judge ordered Catherine and Herbert Schiable to 10 years of probation — and also mandated medical treatment for the couple’s seven other children.

    Despite the sentence’s deviation from the guideline of nine to 16 months in prison, Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore is satisfied.

    “This is a case where they had to take care of their children, and if we need somebody to enforce that, then that’s what this is about: making sure that those children are going to get medical treatment when they need it,” she said.

    Catherine Schiable’s lawyer, Mythri Jaraman, agreed.

    “The judge obviously recognized the fact that both parents were loving parents and nurturing, certainly put high priority on the welfare of their children,” said Jaraman.  “But they obviously have beliefs in terms of medical attention that may not be in the kids’ best interests.”

    Two-year-old Kent Schiable died of bacterial pneumonia in January of 2009.  The Schiables had prayed for his recovery without seeking medical treatment.

    Herbert Schiable’s lawyer, Robert Hoof, said the couple will comply with the medical treatment portion of the sentence despite their beliefs.

    “Both of them had always said that whatever … the court would order them to do that they were willing to adhere to orders from the court,” he said.  “So they had no problem with following the order of the court.”

    It’s unclear whether the couple will appeal.

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