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Second Child Of Philadelphia Faith-Healing Couple Dies

A faith-healing Philadelphia couple on probation after they refused to seek medical care for a son who later died has now lost a second child.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible reportedly told authorities they prayed for the health of their 8-month-old son, Brandon, who was suffering from diarrhea and breathing problems, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. But the baby died last week.

In 2009, the fundamentalist Christian couple lost their 2-year-old son, Kent, to pneumonia. The toddler had fallen ill with pneumonia, and the Schaibles chose prayer rather than medical attention. They were later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years' probation, WCAU-TV reports. The Schaibles also were ordered to provide regular medical attention for their remaining children as part of their sentence.

The Schaibles have not been charged in connection with Brandon's death. But they did appear in court Monday, where a judge said there was evidence the couple may have violated terms of their probation.

The Inquirer says the judge asked:

"When you were asked by police why you didn't call a doctor, you both responded, separately, with the same answer," Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner said during a probation-violation hearing, referring to sealed statements the couple made to police. "Because we believe God wants us to ask him for healing," Lerner quoted from the statements. "Our religion tells us not to call a doctor."

Herbert Schaible, 44, and wife Catherine, 43, belong to the First Century Gospel Church of Philadelphia, WCAU reports. The church is described as a fundamentalist congregation that believes in faith healing. Although the couple hasn't been taken into custody, authorities could decide to bring charges against them once the medical examiner has completed a report on Brandon's death.

The Schaibles have lost custody of their seven other children.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Korva Coleman is a newscaster for NPR.