SECOND son of faith-healing couple dies in their home after they received probation

A couple serving probation for the 2009 death of their toddler after they turned to prayer instead of a doctor could face new charges now that another of their children has died.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible belong to a fundamentalist Christian church that believes in faith healing over traditional medicine.

Philadelphia Judge Benjamin Lerner said at a hearing they violated the most important condition of their probation: to seek medical care for their remaining children.

Facing new charges: Herbert and Catherine Schaible, from Philadelphia, have lost a second son after the 2009 death of their toddler

The Schaibles have yet to be charged in the death of the eight-month-old boy last week.

He suffered from diarrhea and breathing problems for days. Authorities are awaiting autopsy results.

Catherine Schaible's lawyer says the couple are good parents and that they are deeply distraught over the loss of another child.

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In 2009, the couple prayed instead of calling a doctor while their two-year-old son Kent was left to die of pneumonia.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible told homicide detectives at the time: ‘We tried to fight the devil, but in the end the devil won.'

The parents are members of the controversial First Century Gospel Church which tells members it is a sin to use medicine.

Faith-healing: First Century Gospel Church, where the parents are members, says using medicine is a sin

Beliefs: Pastor Nelson Clark of the First Century Gospel Church tells followers to shun 21-century medicine for the power of prayer

They were convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in December 2010 after their son Kent died from bacterial pneumonia.

A judge spared them jail, but said they must take their remaining seven children for regular check-ups with a doctor.


It is estimated that around a dozen U.S. children die in faith-healing cases each year, a handful of which spawn criminal charges, according to experts.

The First Century Gospel Church of Philadelphia’s teachings has clashed with authorities in the past.

In 1991, eight children died in a measles epidemic. All the parents were members of either First Century Gospel Church or the nearby Faith Tabernacle of Nicetown which also preaches faith-healing.

The tragedies are not isolated to Pennsylvania. In Oregon, Jeff and Marci Beagley, were sentenced to 16 months in 2010 for the death of their 16-year-old son. The couple refused to use medicine for their son Neil, who was suffering from a preventable urinary tract blockage. Instead, they prayed and used anointing oils in the hope of divine intervention.

'Too many children have died unnecessarily - a graveyard full,' Judge Steven Maurer said at their sentencing. 'This has to stop.'

They were also sentenced to ten years probation.

The Philadelphia court heard that in January 2009 the couple refused to call a doctor during the two weeks their son was sick with a cold, which eventually led to pneumonia.

His symptoms included coughing, congestion, fatigue and a loss of appetite, although his parents claimed he was eating and drinking until his final day.

The 42-year-old father teaches at a school affiliated with the church. His wife, 41, previously taught there, but now stays at home with the couple's children.

They both grew up in the church and have never received medical care, apart from help from an 84-year-old lay midwife who attends home births, according to pastor Nelson A. Clark.

Clarke explained that the church did not shun members who seek medical care, but prayed that they make a different choice next time.

Using medicine is considered a sin by the church.

Following the guilty verdict Clark said: ‘The legal community is trying to force our church group to put them in the hands of this flawed medical system, when they have chosen to put them in the hands of a perfect God, who does not make mistakes.’

Jeff Beagley and his wife Marci were sentenced last year to 16 months in 2010 after using oils and prayer instead of medicine to treat their son, Neil, who then died from a preventable urinary tract blockage