Travis Rossiter and his wife Wenona, a faith-healing couple in Albany, were recently convicted of manslaughter in the death of their daughter, even though they went on to claim in court that religion did not influence their actions.
A study by Pew Research Center reveals that parents in such cases are often excused from culpability because of the faith-healing exemptions provided by American law. However, in recent years, these exemptions have been revoked frequently and criminals have been brought to justice. That is probably why the Rossiters insisted their faith had nothing to do with their inability to take their ill daughter to a doctor. However, as far as facts are concerned, both parents are members of the General Assembly of the Church of First-Born, an institution that notoriously shuns medical care, ostentatious attires and military service.
Reportedly, the couple failed to take their sick child to a doctor because they thought she had a flu only and not because of their religious belief in faith healing. Wenona also made it a point to mention she had once taken her husband Travis to the emergency room, while explaining she was unaware of her daughter’s type one diabetic condition. Travis, on the other hand, has maintained that seeking a doctor’s help is considered sin.
As noted by an organization that works towards protecting children’s right to healthcare, Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty (CHILD), Wenona’s parents too were charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence in 1996, with her father being convicted and mother being acquitted eventually. This case revolved around the death of Wenona’s younger brother, who suffered from lymphocytic leukemia, a condition that had been left untreated for months before it finally turned fatal. Apparently, Wenona’s grandparents were also taken to court in 1981 for preventing her then infant aunt from seeking medical help for hydrocephalus. According to CHILD’s records, at least 89 children of members of the General Assembly of the Church of First-Born have died in the last 39 years due to medical negligence.
The Rossiter’s conviction however, is not based on their faith-healing practice but on the fact that they failed to provide their child with necessary medical help, regardless of reason. Both parents will be sentenced on December 19.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia