A look at some Canadian parents accused of failing to get medical help for kids

A couple in Alberta has been found not guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life for their toddler son. Court heard that David and Collet Stephan gave 19-month-old Ezekiel natural remedies before he died in 2012. He had bacterial meningitis and his parents called 911 after he stopped breathing.

Here are some other criminal cases involving parents accused of failing to seek medical help for their children:

November 2013: John Clark, 14 months, dies of a staph infection complicated by malnutrition in Calgary. A trial hears that he didn’t see a doctor until the day before he died, and online searches in the family’s home were done for natural remedies for gangrene, such as cabbage leaves and cayenne. Jurors are also shown photos of the dead boy with a rash over his body and blackened toes. Jennifer and Jeromie Clark are found guilty of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life. They are sentenced to 32 months.

March 2013: Ryan Lovett, 7, of Calgary dies after getting strep throat. Court hears his mother gave him dandelion tea and oil of oregano when he developed the infection, which kept him bedridden in their Calgary home for 10 days before he died. Tamara Lovett is convicted of criminal negligence causing death and sentenced to three years in prison.

December 2006: Shatoya Chatelaine, 17 months, dies in Saskatoon after getting the skin infection impetigo around her mouth. A doctor who saw the baby during a home visit several days earlier had advised her mother to take the child to an emergency room. After the baby dies, it’s discovered she was also covered in bruises and had broken ribs. Charissma McDonald tells police she didn’t take the baby to a hospital because she worried social workers would apprehend the Shatoya and her older siblings. McDonald pleads guilty to criminal negligence causing death and is sentenced to two years. The sentence is increased to three years on appeal.

September 1987: Lorie Atikian, 17 months, dies of malnutrition and pneumonia in Toronto. Her parents had fed and cared for her based on the advice of an herbalist. Court hears that as the girl withered away, the herbalist told the couple not to take the child to a doctor. A jury convicts Sonia and Khachadour Atikian of failing to provide the necessaries of life, but a new trial is ordered on appeal. The charges are eventually dismissed.

October 1981: Christopher Tutton, 5, dies in Ontario after his parents take him off insulin. Several doctors had warned the religious couple not to, but they believed he had been miraculously cured of diabetes. A jury in Kitchener convicts Carole and Arthur Tutton of manslaughter, but a second trial is ordered on appeal. That ruling is upheld by the Supreme Court. The Crown does not retry the case.

September 1964: Bonnie Deabay, 5, dies in New Brunswick of an infection from a cut lip that her mother treated with home remedies. An autopsy reveals the infection caused the girl’s death. It spread over several weeks — destroying one side of her lip, extending up the side of her face, down her neck and into her chest. Bonnie had also suffered other injuries. Her mother and father, Glenna and Omar Deabay, are charged with criminal negligence causing death. A jury acquits them at trial.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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