Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a couple who used prayer, not
medicine, to treat their gravely ill daughter was rightfully found guilty of
homicide. The move, authorities say, will drastically curtail legal protections
for families who rely on faith healing for their underage members.
Madeline Kara Neumann died at on Easter Sunday in March 2008 at her home in
Weston, Wisconsin. Authorities say the cause was diabetes. Though her illness
had gone undiagnosed, she had been ailing for weeks before her demise,
ultimately becoming unable to walk, speak, eat, or drink. Her mother and
father, Dale and Leilani Neumann, say they are Pentecostal Christians and
believe that visiting a doctor amounts to idolatry, according to Supreme Court
the girl’s condition deteriorated, her parents rebuffed suggestions from Kara’s
grandparents to seek medical assistance or at least give the child Pedialyte, a
supplement that can help ease dehydration. Leilani Neumann argued that doing
the latter would rob God of his glory. At the time, her husband Dale later testified, they never considered the possibility that Kara might die. After their
daughter did indeed pass, Leilani told police that Kara would be raised from
the dead through an act of God.
Supreme Court’s decision is the first time a Wisconsin court has addressed
criminal blame in a prayer treatment case involving a child, reports The Huffington Post. The decision
states that parents who rely on faith healing are shielded from child-abuse
charges but nothing else, leaving them eligible for many other counts.
2009, separate juries found the Neumanns guilty of second-degree reckless
homicide. They were each ordered to serve a month in jail every year for six
to Rita Swan, director of the Iowa-based advocacy group Children's Healthcare
is a Legal Duty, at least 303 children have died since 1975 after medical care
was withheld on religious grounds.