Law & Crime reports that Pennsylvania parents who chose to refuse medical care for their dying 2-year-old daughter have been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April, but the couple remains free on bail.
Jonathan and Grace Ann Foster were found guilty by a jury of their peers and prosecutors are still trying to determine what their recommended punishment will be. Typically, the involuntary manslaughter charge is a misdemeanor, but in this case it became a felony because the defendants were the victim’s parents. This means it could carry up to 10 years in prison.
The Fosters were arrested February 1, 2017, and they told police they belonged to the Faith Tabernacle Church, which doesn’t believe in seeking medical treatment. The couple stated that their daughter’s death was a result of “God’s will.” Testimony from medical experts said that the child would have lived if the parents would have sought medical treatment for her.
Six other children in the family have been surrendered. The victim’s paternal grandfather, Rowland Foster, was also charged due to a state law requiring clergy to report suspected child abuse to authorities.
Police say the parents called Rowland to their home to anoint the child in an attempt to heal her. The case against him was dismissed by a judge after defense attorneys argued that Rowland did not act with malicious intent.
The child’s death has sparked new interest and skepticism in the Faith Tabernacle methods and beliefs. According to their profile in The Lebanon Daily News, they are a fundamentalist sect adhering to the belief that the Bible only allows spiritual healing for illnesses.
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