“You did that once, and the consequences were tragic,” Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.
Prosecutors on Monday sought to have the couple jailed, but Lerner permitted them to remain free because their seven other children had been placed in foster care.
“He feels they are a danger to their children — not to the community, but to their own children,” Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, who prosecuted the couple in 2010, said Tuesday.
Herbert Schaible, 44, and his 43-year-old wife grew up in the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia and have served as teachers there. The church’s website has a sermon titled “Healing — From God or Medicine?” that quotes Bible verses purportedly forbidding Christians from visiting doctors or taking medicine.
“It is a definite sin to trust in medical help and pills; and it is real faith to trust on the Name of Jesus for healing,” says the message, from last May.
A phone message left with the church on Tuesday was not immediately returned.
The church’s pastor said in 2010 that the couple had never received medical care themselves beyond the help of a lay midwife who attends home births.
The Schaibles did take their children for medical checkups as required by their probation, according to Jayaraman, the defense attorney. Jayaraman said that Brandon was checked by a doctor when he was 10 days old, but she did not know whether the child had seen a doctor since.
“Nobody argues that these aren’t very loving, nurturing parents,” she said Tuesday. “Whether their religion had anything to do with the death of their baby, we don’t know.”