A Canadian court has convicted two parents accused of failing to seek appropriate medical attention for their son, who died of meningitis – an easily diagnosable and preventable infection that people can be immunized against via a vaccination.
David Stephan and Collet Stephan from Alberta, Canada, were found guilty under Section 215 of the Criminal Code, which includes "failing to provide the necessaries of life," for which the maximum sentence is five years in prison.
Their 19-month-old son, Ezekiel, died in March 2012 after suffering from bacterial meningitis. The couple argued that they thought Ezekiel had croup or flu. Instead of taking him to a registered medical doctor or hospital, they treated him using fruit- and vegetable-based home remedies and a product from a “naturopathic doctor.” A post-mortem of the toddler confirmed he had contracted bacterial meningitis.
The “naturopathic doctor” is also being investigated by regulators for her role in the child's death, after receiving pressure from a group of Canadian doctors to take action, Canada’s National Post said.
Lisa Weich, the prosecutor, described the case as "incredibly sad," CBC Calgary reports.
"What we hope that the public and the community take away from this particular trial and the verdict in this trial is that all parents are held to a minimum standard of care that all children should expect at all times," Weich said.
She added: "They definitely, definitely loved their son, but as stated in our closing argument and even in our opening arguments, unfortunately, sometimes love just isn't enough. Parents still have to follow the standard of care that is set by the criminal law."