A Canadian couple reportedly let their child die after giving him naturopathic remedies instead of conventional medical treatment for meningitis, a court heard March 7.
David Stephan, 32, and his wife Collet, 35, pleaded not guilty to failing to providing the necessaries of life for their 19-month-old son Ezekiel in March 2012, CBC reports.
They reportedly used home remedies ranging from olive leaf extract and whey protein to water with maple syrup and more to boost his immune system instead of seeking medical help for his condition.
The couple, who run a nutritional supplements company called Truehope Nutritional Support Inc., explained they loved their son and did not mean to hurt him.
Instead, they simply preferred using the naturopathic remedies after bad experiences with the medical system.
The mother reportedly looked up her son’s symptoms online two weeks before his death and assumed he had croup, Global News reports.
She began using naturopathic remedies to help treat him for it, but although at first it looked like he was getting better, his condition worsened.
After calling in a registered nurse, they learned the child had meningitis and went to a naturopath instead of a doctor to treat him.
When their son stopped breathing, they had no choice but to rush him to the hospital.
At that point it was too late. After air-lifting the child to a hospital, he died after five days on life support.
“I’m not saying they killed him, abused him or ignored him -- they loved him,” Crown Prosecutor Clayton Giles said. “They didn’t take him to a doctor until it was too late -- far too late.”
“The jury needs to answer this question: At what point should the accused have taken Ezekiel to the doctor?” he asked.
This is not the first time the couple has had a run-in with the law for their use of naturopathic remedies.
In 2004, Health Canada unsuccessfully took them to court to stop them from selling a product they claimed manages mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, Empowerplus.