Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 14:16 UK

Jail terms for faith healing pair

Dale Neumann during his trial in Wausau Wisconsin, 28 July 2009
Dale Neumann says he and his wife continue to trust in God

A US couple who prayed rather than seeking medical attention for their dying daughter have been sentenced to six months in jail.

Dale and Leilani Neumann, of Wisconsin, could have received up to 25 years in prison over the 2008 death of Madeline Neumann, who was known as Kara.

The 11-year-old died of an undiagnosed but treatable form of diabetes.

Judge Vincent Howard ordered the couple to serve one month in jail each year for the next six years.

God probably works through other people, some of them doctors
Judge Vincent Howard

One parent will serve the term in March and the other in September.

The judge told the Neumanns this would give them time to "think about Kara and what God wants you to learn from this".

He added that they were "very good people, raising their family, who made a bad decision, a reckless decision".

He added: "God probably works through other people, some of them doctors."

In addition to the custodial sentence, the Neumanns were also put on 10 years' probation, as part of which they must allow a nurse to examine their two youngest surviving children at least once every three months, and must immediately take their children to a doctor in case of any serious injuries.

'Legal duty'

Prosecutors said the couple had recklessly killed the youngest of their four children by ignoring clear symptoms of severe illness as she became too weak to speak, eat, drink or walk.


They said the couple had a legal duty to take their daughter to a doctor but had instead relied totally on prayer for healing.

Kara died on the floor of the family's rural home as people surrounded her and prayed. The emergency services were only called after she stopped breathing.

In their defence, the parents said they believed healing came from God, and that they had not expected their daughter to die as they prayed for her.

Jay Kronenwetter, Mr Neumann's lawyer, was asked in a BBC interview if he thought his client had got off lightly.

"My client sees spiritual treatment as the proper medicine and I suspect the people who want harsher punishment see Western medicine as the proper medicine, I guess therein lies the difference," he told the BBC World Service.

"My clients just happen to have a belief that is very outside of our social norm."

The couple are appealing against their convictions.

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