Antivaxers lobbying Rep. Jason Chaffetz to investigate the CDC fawn over parents who let their child with bacterial meningitis die of medical neglect

Yesterday, I took note of a meeting of advocates and lawyers with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), which makes him a very powerful Congressman. The group that met with him included Del Bigtree, the producer of Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine propagandafest of a “documentary” VAXXED: From Cover-up to Catastrophe; Levi Quackenboss, the pseudonymous blogger best known recently for getting into a fight over vaccine evidence with a 12-year-old and losing badly, leading her to try to dox the child and look even worse as a result; anti-GMO activist Tami Canal, the founder of March Against Monsanto; and, apparently, some lawyers, no doubt lawyers interested in destroying the National Vaccine Injury Compensation System and the Vaccine Court, so that they can seek big paydays for “vaccine injury” from vaccine manufacturers. After the meeting, both Bigtree and Quackenboss were crowing all over their Facebook page and blog, respectively, about how they thought that Chaffetz would investigate the CDC based on the overheated conspiracy theory of the “CDC whistleblower,” explained in more detail in my last post. Given that Chaffetz hails from Utah, the epicenter of the supplement industry in the US, and is in the pocket of the supplement industry to the point that he was co-chair of the Dietary Supplement Caucus (yes, it exists), I thought I had reason to be concerned that he might be susceptible to the blandishments of antivaccine cranks, coupled with a lovely conspiracy theory that would allow him to investigate the CDC, given the history of the OGR with respect to antivaccine pseudoscience and other quackery. After all, it was just 2013 when antivaxers were lobbying Chaffetz's predecessor, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on the same issues, sans CDC whistleblower conspiracy theory. And don't get me started on the long history of quacks using this committee to harass the FDA over its "persecution" of cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski when Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) was chair back in the 1990s.

As if it weren’t bad enough that the OGR chair is giving what sounds like a congenial, sympathetic hearing to antivaccine activists, I have to wonder if Mr. Chaffetz knows just how despicable the people to whom he gave a hearing and on whose behalf he might be launching a Congressional investigation are. I really do. Andrew Wakefield, of course, needs little explanation. He’s the single most famous antivaccine activist alive today, or at least he’d be my first pick for that dubious “honor.” A now utterly disgraced and discredited physician and researcher, Wakefield rose to infamy when he published a small case series in 1998 that purported to show an association between the MMR vaccine and bowel problems in autistic children. It was the paper that launched a thousand antivaccine quacks and gave birth to the MMR scare that continues to this day, in the process causing MMR uptake in the UK to plummet and measles, previously controlled, to come roaring back. Ultimately, Wakefield was stripped of his medical license for research misconduct and saw his 1998 paper retracted. Now, he’s known for appearing on cruises for conspiracy theorists and making antivaccine propaganda films like VAXXED. Unfortunately, he’s also responsible, along with biochemical engineer turned antivaccine activist and incompetent epidemiologist, Brian Hooker, birthed the “CDC whistleblower” conspiracy theory.

These are the people with whom Del Bigtree has associated himself: A disgraced physician/scientist who no longer has a license to practice because of his research misconduct, an anti-GMO crank, and a pseudonymous antivaccine blogger so insecure about her position that she attacked a 12-year-old boy who challenged it, not to mention a bevy of lawyers seeking a big payday after tearing down the NVICP. That’s bad enough, but here’s whom else Bigtree associates with, the parents of a child named Ezekiel Stephan, who died of bacterial meningitis because they were too busy treating him with herbs and maple syrup to take him to a real doctor in time to save his life. As a result, Stephan’s parents were convicted of failing to provide the necessities of life and are due to be sentenced this week. Not surprisingly, these parents, David and Collet Stephan, are antivaccine as well, and have thus become martyrs in the eyes of the antivaccine movement.

So, after a showing of VAXXED in Calgary, Del Bigtree fawned all over them after the Q&A and posted it to Facebook:

Yes, as Reasonable Hank put it, the VAXXED documentary team is rallying behind actual child killers because they are antivaccine and can be portrayed as martyrs to the cause of “vaccine freedom” and “health freedom.” So, not only are the people Mr. Chaffetz met with rallying behind parents who were convicted of letting their child die through medical neglect, but, as Michael Platt put it, the Stephans show no remorse whatsoever. Before I go on, let me make this clear. I have no doubt that David and Collet Stephan suffered horribly when Ezekiel died. I have no doubt that they still mourn him, four years later. It is, however, four years later. Life goes on, and the grief becomes less intense. What I mean by "remorse" is not that they weren't devastated by their loss. What I mean is that they have no remorse for their role in Ezekiel's death. They view themselves, rather than Ezekiel, as the victim. It's now all about them, rather than their child, and they view themselves as blameless.

In fact, they try very hard to blame the ambulance drivers who tried to save Ezekiel’s life:

“This isn’t the way the media has played it out to be. They’ve tried to distance us from the average person by trying to say that he was too stiff, stiff as a board, to get into his car seat, he had to be fed somehow through an eyedropper, he was being treated for meningitis with maple syrup and fruits and berries — that’s not the case at all,” says the negligent father, in an infuriating video now plastered on YouTube.

“We were treating our child with different homeopathic remedies, different herbal remedies like tens of thousands of people do. Nothing out of the ordinary and he wasn’t severely ill. Then everything just came to a crash on an evening, he ended up in an ambulance that didn’t have the right equipment and he subsequently ended up brain-dead.”

This is, to put it kindly, utter and complete bullshit. First of all, homeopathy is The One Quackery To Rule Them All, the most ridiculous of quackeries. If the Stephans were treating a seriously ill patient with homeopathy, then they were committing medical neglect, plain and simple. Also, the testimony of the coroner was very clear that Ezekiel had been in dire straights for quite some time before his death and that Ezekiel was dead before EMS intervened. Watching the video, I felt bile rising in the back of my throat and a burning rage start to consume me that took considerable effort to bring under control. As Platt notes:

All the dad lacks is a halo, to set off his mantle of martyrdom.

Given another chance, and it seems all the Stephans would do differently for a sick child that had stopped breathing is not call the ambulance, because it wasn’t equipped with the right equipment to provide oxygen to an 18-month-old.

It’s a halo that Del Bigtree tries his best to buff to the greatest shine possible. The only way Bigtree could have his lips more firmly attached to David Stephan’s posterior would be to insert his head in Stephan’s rectum, so much so that he enthusiastically lets himself be used to rally support for the Stephans in their sentencing hearing today and tomorrow:

On Thursday, the couple is back before a Lethbridge judge for a two-day sentencing hearing, and in the video, the Stephans ask that supporters flock to the court dressed in blue jeans and white shorts to bolster their cause.

“Ultimately it comes down to whether we have the right to vaccinate or not vaccinate without being held criminally liable,” says the dad.

“Or whether or not we have to rush our children to the doctor every time they even just get the sniffles, in fear that something may just randomly happen and then we’re held liable.”

So let me bet this straight. The Stephans didn’t vaccinate their child, who developed bacterial meningitis, which quite possibly could have started with an HiB infection, which is a vaccine-preventable disease. Of course, that's not the worst of it. Even if they had vaccinated their child, they still neglected him medically. After all, they treated their child with homeopathy, maple syrup, and various herbal concoctions even though he was slowly getting worse and worse. Finally, their child Ezekiel stopped breathing, and only that was enough to get them to call an ambulance. When the paramedics couldn’t revive Ezekiel, they tried to blame them. Now they’re milking their notoriety for publicity, and Del Bigtree is helping them do it. As Platt sarcastically notes, regardless of whether they get probation or five years in prison, “it seems David and Collet Stephan have learned but one thing from their loss — and that’s how to use the publicity to their best advantage.”

One wonders if Chaffetz knew what he was getting into when he agreed to meet with Bigtree and his crew. I realize that Bigtree didn’t make his video of the Stephans until a couple of days after his meeting with Chaffetz, but there are plenty of other things that date back months that a competent Congressional staff should have identified. For instance, one wonders if Chaffetz was aware of how Hooker, Wakefield, and Bigtree have been courting of the Nation of Islam to spread the antivaccine message. One wonders how well that would go over among Chaffetz’s constituents.

In the end, Chaffetz is letting himself be used by Bigtree and antivaccinationists. I suspect he realizes that but see some sort of political advantage to be had. Perhaps he can use the incident to portray himself as fighting for “health freedom” and against overweening government. Who knows? I just hope he figures out what a mistake he’s making before he causes too much mischief. Unfortunately, I doubt that he will.

ADDENDUM: Surprise, surprise! Collet Stephan is pulling a fast one at the Stephans' sentencing hearing by claiming that the autopsy report was falsified.

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Unless ambulances come equipped with a TARDIS, there is nothing they could've brought that would've saved Ezekiel.

I just love how their supporters are blind to the part where death of their child caused Stephens seemingly no distress. All they talk about is how they are hounded for "doing the right thing", how it is not their fault. But the fact that the child is dead seems to have no bearing on their attitude in any way, except being the reason for the heat put on them.

That's how you know they're the good guys. By seeing how they care more about media/law reaction to their son's death, rather than the death itself. If that ain't a sign of psychopathy I don't know what is...

By The Smith of Lie (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

A few random thoughts:

A. This choice really is telling. Whether it's from real sympathy with the parents and lack of emphasis on the child or as a way to latch onto a controversial issue to get more attention to Vaxxed just before the end of its theater run, it's not to the creators' and the Vaxxed Team's credit.

B. I may be too easy on the parents, but I don't think they didn't care about the boy, and the court didn't either - no remorse, not getting what they did wrong, doesn't mean his death didn't hurt. My impression is that they did feel it at the time, four years ago. But - not to their credit - they really don't get what they did wrong. I guess it's human nature not to want to acknowledge that they failed him to that degree, but it's not to their credit.

C. Sentencing in the Stephans' is today and tomorrow. I wonder what will happen.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

That... that is actually a very fair point, Dorit. Let's not forget that it happened over four years ago by now - that is a lot of time to deal with the grief and, seemingly, get over something like the death of your child.

It is not like it happened just the other week and they are acting the way they are.

Just in case I made it sound like "they cared then and don't now: nor my intent.

I hope I never face losing a child, but from talking to those who have I understand that it never stops hurting. You never really get over. But after a few years most people, we hope, get to the point where they can function and act in spite of the grief. Doesn't mean they don't care about the loss.

I don't know how things are here.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Amethyst (not verified)

So let me bet this straight. The Stephans didn’t vaccinate their child, who developed bacterial meningitis, which quite possibly could have started with an HiB infection, which is a vaccine-preventable disease.

There was some debate on Jezabel's and other articles as the minimal age for having the full HiB vaccination - the question was, would Ezekiel have had the full series before becoming infected. Although it should be done by 11 months, I believe, so a 18-month old child would have been protected.

Anyway, Ezekiel's vaccination status is a red herring.

The fact remains that he was sick for two-and-half weeks, and by all accounts it was a bit more serious than the "sniffles".
The fact remains that the parents ignored the advice of at least two people they trusted (a nurse friend, and the ND the mom visited to get echinacea), and who flatly told them it could be meningitis and a visit to a doctor may be warranted.
The fact remains that when he collapsed, he was dehydrated and malnourished. The dehydration was one of the reasons the ambulance crew couldn't do much for him: his veins had collapsed and couldn't be used for IV.

All of this has nothing to do with vaccination (aside as an example of crank magnetism). It's child neglect, pure and simple.

To go back to Stephan:

he was being treated for meningitis with maple syrup and fruits and berries — that’s not the case at all,
[...]We were treating our child with different homeopathic remedies, different herbal remedies

How is treating you child with sugary water and vegetable concoctions "not the case at all", you sad excuse for a human being?

like tens of thousands of people do.

As someone pointed in a different article, it this that true, then we should be seeing tens of thousands of children dying of meningitis.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

I've finally managed to track down Ezekiel's autopsy findings (courtesy of a posting on the Stephan's own Facebook page).

I have an interest in this, as I am often asked to provide evidence on coronial autopsy findings from a microbiological perspective to help determine the cause of death.

This can be challenging, as micro-organisms often enter usually sterile sites (eg the meninges or the pleural spaces) after death due to the breakdown of the usual physical and immunological barriers that are present in life.

Also, autopsies are not "sterile" procedures; i.e. the equipment used to obtain specimens is not sterile and can contaminate specimens that are sent to my lab.

As a result, seeing or culturing organism(s) from a sterile site specimen obtained at autopsy cannot be conclusive evidence that that organism was there before the patient died.

Allowing for these factors, the findings of a)suppurative inflammation of the meninges, b) gram-negative bacilli on microscopy of the meninges and pleural space fluid, and c) Haemophilus influenzae DNA detected by PCR of the meninges, together with the clinical findings, are strongly suggestive of invasive H. influenzae infection with secondary pleural space infection and bacterial meningitis.

The fact that the cultures were negative in spite of the positive microscopy is likely to reflect inhibition of growth due to antimicrobial therapy administered in the ICU prior to the autopsy, and does not in any way detract from these findings.

The laboratory that performed the DNA testing were apparently unable to determine whether the H. influenzae was type B (ie the type that is essentially preventable by immunisation), but if I was a betting man I would say that it was.

tl; dr version: Ezekiel had invasive Haemophilus influenzae disease with secondary bacterial meningitis and pleural empyema, which, left untreated, resulted in raised intracranial pressure and ultimately brain death *prior* to the child receivng medical attention. If they were able to type the H. influenzae and it was type B, then this was almost certainly preventable with immunisation.

Shame on these parents, and shame on their ignorant enablers.

@Dorit - That's pretty much exactly how I took your comment, don't worry. Of course you never get over it, but eventually you can seemingly act and appear as if you did - you can funtion again.

Dead babies are the glue that binds tightest.

If one was to be uncharitable (Who? Me? With my reputation?), then 4 years is plenty of time for some post-event "rationalisation"...

Either way the vaccination thing is pretty much not relevant: this is just plain child neglect and abuse (certainly in UK-ia, where those of us health bods working with children were required to report to children's services families who consistently missed appointments or seemed to be neglecting their child's health, so that an investigation under the relevant legislation could be carried out ans appropriate action taken).

I am pretty uncharitable and even with 4 years for coming to term, that Stephens had I still find it pretty disgusting how they are spinning the whole thing to paint themselves as victims of oppressive system.

Wheather you one still is in mourning or not, making a propaganda tool out of one's child dying is not something I can get behind.

By The Smith of Lie (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

What is the status of Del Bigtree and "the doctors" tv show? I would be terrified if he still had any involvement or had a way to use the show to push VAXXED any further.

It would be nice if a competent TV doctor--Sanjay Gupta maybe, spends a bit of time trying to debunk anti-vaccine movies like Vaxxed.

By David Feig (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

I hope the court takes into consideration a factor I consider much more important than punishing the Stephans.

And that's keeping them away from their remaining young children until they're older and stronger, and better able to fend off life-threatening neglect and pseudo-healthcare.

I'm reminded of a case of Munchausen's by proxy, where two babies died because mom (a nurse) wanted attention. She got a sentence in the range of ten years, (as I recall), enough time so the couple's remaining child/children could grow big enough to resist suffocation. 5 years might be enough to protect the Stephans' kids, but I doubt the parents will get more than a year or two, if any jail time at all his handed down.

Orac should've marked the video with an explicit warning about viewers taking their prescribed antihypertensive meds and keeping throwable objects out of reach. The parents (especially dad's) preening self-satisfaction and the fawning of the interviewers is nauseating.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

@ Dangerous Bacon

And that’s keeping them away from their remaining young children until they’re older and stronger, and better able to fend off life-threatening neglect and pseudo-healthcare.

That's a real concern.
Unfortunately, a potential guardian is the Grandpa, a.k.a. the founder of the TrueHope supplement company.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

Yep. There's no good option. The "least bad" option would be for the state to take the children and put them in a foster home.

Foster care is a terrible option. I'm a foster parent, and would never advocate for additional children to be removed over this - the trauma of losing your (even medically neglectful) family is real. I'd say whether or not they go to prison, the least bad option would be for the parents to lose medical rights and have medical guardianship of their children given to someone else until all kids are 18. But as long as they are feeding, clothing and housing them adequately, foster care has many other physical and psychological hazards that I wouldn't wish on any child.

I truly and sincerely hope the Stephans get to rot in jail for a good long time for their crimes against their son. That they could be so callous and uncaring regarding what had to have been an extremely painful and obviously miserable illness ( severe chest pain in respiratory distress from my emo couples with incapacitating headache and neck pain from meningitis) leading to death in this little boy speaks volumes for their arrogance and selfishness as well as no true concern or love for this child. Having seen and treated children with these illnesses including an unvaccinated one who died just like this little boy, I can tell you there's nothing subtle about the presenting symptoms for these illnesses. That Bigtree holds the Stephans up as he does tells me Big tree is an ignorant, fame-grabbing pig to boot perhaps in a class as vile as Andrew Wakefield himself.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

Argh--"my emo" = empyema.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

You know things are bad when foster care is the best option.

The biggest problem with jail is martyrdom I think. The additional exposure by the Vaxxed loons almost guarantees a lot of notoriety.

@ #15

I do not know the current status of the Stephan's surviving children as to guardianship nor relevant Canadian law, but I would think that the court could appoint a non-family member "health and welfare" guardian to ensure certain standards for their care. Of course, given their past record, I wouldn't deny the possibility of their crying about oppression by the state and fleeing

As someone from Utah who has to hear Chaffetz's primary re-election ads about "going after" all the leaders of "corrupt" government organizations.... he'll probably jump all over an excuse to go after the CDC.

By Nar Rauko (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

@ Chris Hickie

That Bigtree holds the Stephans up as he does tells me Big tree is an ignorant, fame-grabbing pig to boot perhaps in a class as vile as Andrew Wakefield himself.

You are not the only one thinking that these two guys are siblings of a sort.
Quoting/paraphrasing a critic of "Vaxxed":
"a bad horror movie with Bigtree and Wakefield vying for spotlight time"

By Helianthus (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

I wondered about what woo involved maple syrup -
my search results immediately revealed a Daily Beast article about its effectiveness against bacteria ( it cures everything!) and a natural cancer cure that used baking soda as well**

** including a 2013 article by Orac amongst the first entries. Fancy that!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

The parents were found guilty. I wonder whether their public activities and attitude subsequent to the verdict are taken into account at the sentencing.

Does anyone know?

By Badly Shaved Monkey (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

@ Chris Hickie:

Agreed about Bigtree.
As I mentioned elsewhere, he and Jaxen popped up around the time of VAXXED!'s release, clinging to Andy's coattails for a chance at fame .. actually notoriety.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

More proof that David and Collet are narcissistic attention-whores.

YOU HAD ONE JOB. DON'T KILL YOUR KID.

All this trial was about is whether or not you did or didn't, could or could have. You were convicted and now you're being sentenced. That's it, you fools. Your son didn't have to die, Ezekiel should be alive right now, almost 6 years old and maybe riding a bike with no training wheels, propelling a scooter down the sidewalk, antagonizing his siblings, but you failed at your ONE JOB and now he's dead.

Pathetic, deluded, soulless people.

FWIW, David looks a lot more convinced than Collet.

Not once do they refer to him by name. They only say his name when they're asking letters for support.

They're asking for people in "jeans and white t-shirts" to show up at the courthouse in Lethbridge to advocate on their behalf.

Who advocated for Ezekiel?

I wonder whether their public activities and attitude subsequent to the verdict are taken into account at the sentencing.

It's been suggested that they may.

I'll shut up (temporarily) now, but Orac, I agree with DB on the warning, I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK" so loudly that I scared the dogs. This video is beyond the pale. I actually feel slightly sorry for Collet, I don't know why. David is just -- I don't even have the words.

An appropriate sentence for these sc*mbags is a weekend vacation in Churchill during polar bear season. Also, they would be given a tent, smeared with honey and given butter knives (for protection reasons).

I sound an internal scream whenever I read a line like, "treating him with herbs and maple syrup." No. No. No. No. No. As David Stephan says, "that’s not the case at all.". Drill this into your brains, people:

The Stephans were trying to cure Ezekiel with supplements produced by Truehope, the Stephan family 'natural health' scam!

Specifically, they were relying on the 'immune system booster' and 'natural antibacterial' Truehope OLE (Olive Leaf Extract). Had they taken the lad to a doctor, they would have been admitting their snake oil didn't work.

The US distributor associated with Truehope is, of course, in Utah, and the Stephan family are supposedly devout Mormans. So I wouldn't imagine Jason Chaffetz will be worried that his new pal Del hangs with remorseless child-killers. Hell, I bet the remorseless child-killer paterfamilias has funneled a fair chunk of cash to Chaffetz's campaign coffers. Really, does anyone think Tony Stephan is unknown at The Dietary Supplement Caucus? Hell, Tony Stephan could have gotten Del the invite with Chaffetz, as a quid-pro-quo for Del blowing the sympathy-and-outrage trumpet days before the judge delivers the verdict on his son and daughter-in-law?

[sarcasm] Nah. I'm sure the timing of Del's sit-down with Chaffetz occuring just before the scheduled reading of the Stephan verdict is nothing more than a coincidence. [/sarcasm]

Yes, it's about their reliance on Truehope, but the broader perspective is their rejection of the mainstream. Ezekiel was born at home, with an unregulated midwife in attendance. Collet had no antenatal care and Ezekiel had never once seen a medical doctor. It's a lifestyle choice, living off the grid, special snowflakes, etc. Their ideology won and Ezekiel lost.

I just wanted to say something about parental grief, about whether Ezekiel's parents loved him and whether they've been able to put their grief in a different place now that 4 years have elapsed since his death. I think the Stephans did love Ezekiel. Most parents, even bad ones, seem to love their kids. The difference is, for good parents, there is nothing you really love more than your kid.

Terrie Meynders is actually a RM (registered midwife). My mistake. I do wonder if Collet saw Meynders in an official capacity, since she is frequently referred to as nurse and family friend.

@ sadmar

I will admit, the way the maple syrup/fruit juice thing was reported, it sounded more like an attempt at feeding the poor child with sugar-rich liquids than a belief in the curing powers of maple syrup.
David Stephan did wax over the benefits of Truehope products to the police officer at the hospital, didn't he?

Now, when people say that Ezekiel only got maple syrup and fruit juices to treat his meningitis - in the sense that he got little else - that's not that far from the truth.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

If my recollection of sentencing by a Crown Court suffices, subsequent to conviction behavior is taken into account, as such can be as damning as pre-conviction behavior and perhaps, even more so. After all, during trial, a defendant is on his or her best behavior, after, not so much so - they tend to fall off of their guard.
So, a conviction has told them that they were wrong, in no uncertain terms. When they insist that they are right, they reject the findings of the court and the court takes note of that rejection at sentencing.

For, let's review what requirements that their mythical ambulance would have to have to have successfully saved the life of this poor child.
A respirator, heart-lung machine available to support cardiovascular collapse, craniotomy surgical set (with neurosurgeon), antibiotics (and physician to administer them), stasis field, antigravity field and a real wizard, to provide magical life support.
While the assorted medical personnel do exist, as do the medical devices short of the science fiction stasis and antigravity, such are never carried on any standard ambulance on the planet. They're not on an ACLS ambulance either. Indeed, such are only included in the very same realm as antigravity, stasis and wizards - fiction.

Here's a hint for those without medical knowledge. If your child has a fever, stiff neck and photophobia (can't stand light), waiting for the child to stop breathing is a bad thing.

For the record, while Canadian courts still utilize the concept of "Queen on the Bench", with mild divergence from UK Crown Courts, the traditions remain quite similar in many ways. Hence, the use of the term Crown Court.

In defense of the EMTs:
(Disclaimer: I am a (former) EMT so I tend to sympathetic)

If they didn't check their equipment and really didn't all their airway supplies then shame on them. You do that every day, no matter what. The "can't be bothered to do check/clean/maintain your ambulance attitude" is all too common.

On the other hand, I think it's possible they made the (very likely clinically correct) decision not to intubate and the Stephans' are (surprisingly) being dishonest. Intubating a young kid, in the back of a moving ambulance while doing compressions is pretty much a nightmare scenario.

In most places, and consistent with the best available evidence, intubation is not the first choice for airway management in cardiac arrests. It would make more sense for a respiratory cause or a very long transport time but that was not the situation.

Given the details I know about the case, unless we were having significant difficulties ventilating with a bag and mask I would not have intubated in that situation.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

Re: the maple syrup

Collet gave Ezekiel water mixed with maple syrup early on in his illness, when, after talking with Ms. Meynders, she thought he just had croup. The water-maple syrup mixture was to increase his fluid intake. It was not given to him when meningitis was suspected. That is one fact that people really need to get right.

Once meningitis was suspected (and Ms. Meynders told Collet that they should take him to a real doctor), Collet decided to go onto the internet to "research" meningitis. She decided to take on the role of doctor herself instead of consulting a real one. Convinced that doctors would just give Ezekiel antibiotics, she and David decided to give him "natural antibiotics" like garlic, even though garlic has no systemic antibiotic properties. They also gave him supplements like Truehope to "boost his immune system".

I've got more details over at Harpocrates Speaks, including portions of the findings of fact.

I'm sure that, in their own misguided way, David and Collet did love Ezekiel. However, they were incredibly medically ignorant and irrationally overconfident in their own knowledge and skills. All parents make mistakes and have lapses of judgment, but that is not an excuse for negligence.

Whatever punishment they receive, I hope that it also involves intensive education on proper responses. They have three other kids (8, 3, and 1 years old). If they cannot make appropriate medical decisions, then that right should be taken from them.

@Wzrd1
For what it's worth, critical care ambulances generally carry vents, antibiotics and in very rare cases patients can be transported on ECMO (though this is a huge ordeal that requires tons of equipment, personnel, multiple ambulances and a police escort). Some systems allow CC teams to respond to field calls but this would not have warranted that (they generally only respond for extended extrication).

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

@capnkrunch

Here's some info from the case regarding the final emergency run to the hospital. The Stephans were on the phone with 911 after Ezekiel stopped breathing. 911 instructed them on what to do, and because he started breathing again, David told the operator not to send an ambulance, that they would drive Ezekiel to the hospital themselves. Twenty minutes later, they finally got in their car to head to the hospital. Along the way, Ezekiel stopped breathing again, and they again called 911 and asked for an ambulance to meet them on the way. When EMS arrived, Ezekiel showed signs of being dead (no pulse/blood pressure, heart rate 0, not breathing, and the lowest possible Glascow Coma Score).

Then, from the findings of fact:

The emergency responders immediately started and performed continuous CPR on Ezekiel during transport to the Cardston hospital, but were unable to secure an airway for about 8 minutes, just before arrival at the hospital. They did then observe Ezekiel’s chest rise and fall. The ambulance had been de-stocked of endotracheal equipment which may have been of assistance in securing an airway.

So it does look like the ambulance was not properly stocked, but even if it had been, I'm not sure they could have saved the boy.

How interesting.

Something that appears to have vanished from their narrative is the event that triggered them to call 911 -- their son had stopped breathing. The mother was reportedly performing CPR when the ambulance arrived, and had been for some time. It wasn't even their first 911 call that day; he'd stopped breathing earlier, but they cancelled the ambulance the first time, saying they'd transport him themselves. Which eventually they did do, but he stopped breathing before they got there, so they started CPR and called 911.

So there are two things that have been omitted by them: first, that the child had already stopped breathing, and second, that the first medical transport they arranged was their own damn car, after they'd refused an ambulance earlier. So yeah, I completely blame the people operating the vehicle that picked him up from his house. Because those people are his parents, the people convicted of causing his death through medical neglect.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

I gotta learn to read the comments before responding. :-P I see others have already commented on that. It's just really interesting to me that they're intentionally leaving out the fact that their son had already stopped breathing. They were happy to show their heroic efforts to perform CPR before, when it made it look like they were trying to save him, but now that it's clear he died before EMTs arrived, they've tossed that down the memory hole.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

@ capnkrunch

As I pointed out in a previous thread, here is an article quoting one of the paramedics, and a link to a longer part of his testimony during the trial.

The paramedic is claiming he did know about the lack of proper tools and consumables; he had already requested more masks, but they had not been provided at the time of the emergency.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

I read the article as the sentencing arguments were shortly interrupted and then resumed?

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Ross Miles (not verified)

Ross Miles: "now a claim of a falsified autopsy."

From the article is was a claim from the mother. A quick Google reveals that it a claim that is now circulating in less than respectable websites (like Elizabeth Erin's HealthNutNews). With that level of evidence, it looks like the proceedings were resumed.

Pro-tip: argument from blatant assertion does not get you far in both science and a court room.

Oops... it is "Erin Elizabeth."

Dorit @ 46

Right, were temporally halted and have resumed according to the updated version.

By Ross Miles (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

The article does say that the hearing resumed. CBC frequently updates articles without any indication of of what has changed with the update.

A couple of points I find interesting:

Though there was an admission that the ambulance didn't have the appropriate size of bag valve mask or ET tube, the EMTs apparently tubed the boy adequately to accomplish ventilation. I have seen nothing from the defense (in popular media; I haven't see trial transcripts) to seriously support that the lack was contributory to Ezekiel's death.

David isn't going to be be called by the defense during the sentencing hearing. I very strongly suspect this is because the defense lawyer has recognized that he would be nothing but a liability, given his performances since the trial. (Collet's testimony at the hearing has certainly been of the" boo-hoo, poor me" class - see article at Ross's link.)

@ Chris

Agreed in science, blatant assertion gets one nowhere but in a courtroom, not always so sure. There was evidence given in the trial of the autopsy possibly being wrong.

By Ross Miles (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

I wonder if the temporary halt was at the request of the defense lawyer - "Her lawyer, Shawn Buckley, said he had no idea she had planned to make such a statement." I can sort of picture Buckley cringing and hiding under furniture.

You are not the only one thinking that these two guys are siblings of a sort.
Quoting/paraphrasing a critic of “Vaxxed”:
“a bad horror movie with Bigtree and Wakefield vying for spotlight time”

Actually, from my perspective, Wakefield and Bigtree seem to have quite the bromance going.

I sound an internal scream whenever I read a line like, "treating him with herbs and maple syrup." No. No. No. No. No. As David Stephan says, "that’s not the case at all.". Drill this into your brains, people:

The Stephans were trying to cure Ezekiel with supplements produced by Truehope, the Stephan family 'natural health' scam!

Specifically, they were relying on the 'immune system booster' and 'natural antibacterial' Truehope OLE (Olive Leaf Extract). Had they taken the lad to a doctor, they would have been admitting their snake oil didn't work.

Of course, there is no reason that both can't be true at the same time. After all, David Stephan himself states in the video that they were treating Ezekiel with homeopathic remedies and herbal medicine.

Yes, it's about their reliance on Truehope, but the broader perspective is their rejection of the mainstream. Ezekiel was born at home, with an unregulated midwife in attendance. Collet had no antenatal care and Ezekiel had never once seen a medical doctor. It's a lifestyle choice, living off the grid, special snowflakes, etc. Their ideology won and Ezekiel lost.

Exactly. The parents' being in the thrall of Truehope was only one manifestation of their mystical, pseudoscientific world view that lead to Ezekiel's end.

"Agreed in science, blatant assertion gets one nowhere but in a courtroom, not always so sure."

I believe the hearing is before the judge only, which likely would reduce (or perhaps even invert) the impact of such an assertion.

I don't know how things necessarily work in Canadian Courtrooms, but I know that in the US, one is not allowed to present "new evidence" in a sentencing hearing.

Ross Miles: "There was evidence given in the trial of the autopsy possibly being wrong."

It is because medicine is hard and more nuanced than they expect. These guys live in a black and white world where no uncertainty is allowed.

“Agreed in science, blatant assertion gets one nowhere but in a courtroom, not always so sure.”

They have learned that evidence is required in the USA to get a claim compensated from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Even for a table injury they need records showing that an event happened within a specified time period.

I believe the "falsified autopsy" notion originated with the Prayers for Ezekiel Facebook page, which posted a scanned copy of the autopsy report (which I included in my post) that has some sections highlighted.

Doug and Chris

It was a somewhat disgraced former Alberta coroner who said it was viral meningitis while the autopsy says bacterial.

I read most of the transcript sometime back when Health Canada took Truehope to court and the judge bought into Truehope assertions, to the point of mind altering, so judges are swayed. What stuck was the assertion of the judge that there were 6,000 people dependent upon Truehope for their very existence. Sorry do not have time to find a link, but it is on the internet now.

I will stay away from the U.S. court system vs Canadian as being off topic, but will say I have little respect for the Canadian and less for the American.

By Ross Miles (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

Fake autopsy? ...here we go again.

These idiots think they are the smartest people on the planet. Anti vaccidiots, anti medicine, anti science, they don't understand health and physiology but are too arrogant to admit it. Thus, a bunch of people who have no idea what they are looking at in an autopsy report see something they don't understand, google it, get a halfassed version (or a completely different scenario of that word) and claim that must be a lie.

Because saying "I don't know how this works" means admitting that they aren't the smartest people on earth.

From the CBC article linked upthread:

[The Stephans]treated [Ezekiel] with hot peppers, garlic, onions and horseradish

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over.

Granted that I am not an expert in "natural treatments", but I don't see why somebody would think these things are helpful for treating flu or croup in a toddler. Even a healthy kid that age would have trouble getting that stuff down. So would some healthy adults, for that matter--I like spicy food myself, but most people in the part of the US where I live do not.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

@Todd W:

I can't comment at your place because of the limited number of options, but what's the deal with this one?

Why was an unproven testing method used to diagnose bacterial meningitis?

I'm only getting "non-clinical" from the autopsy report. So... what was it? Nested PCR?

@Narad

I should probably switch over to Wordpress or something. Just too lazy to do it.

Unfortunately, I haven't found out what method was used, other than microscopy. (IIRC, don't recall at the moment where I saw that).

Ross Miles: "I will stay away from the U.S. court system vs Canadian as being off topic, but will say I have little respect for the Canadian and less for the American."

No problem. Like all organizations they are made up of mere humans, none of them alike. It is due to the universality of variation. (note: like most who live in a state that borders Canada, we have friends and family north of the border, so we get to hear both the good and bad)

The American National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (US Vaccine Court) has very very lenient requirements for evidence, but the anti-vaxers now hate it. They expected to walk in, tell a story and get handed a check. It did not work out that way, very few were awarded.

When people say that Ezekiel only got maple syrup and fruit juices to treat his meningitis – in the sense that he got little else – that’s not that far from the truth.

Sorry Hellanthus, but that's VERY far from the truth. The 'truth' question at hand for the sentencing isn't the actual efficacy of the treatments the Stephans gave their son as known to science, it's what they thought they doing to treat Ezekiel, and why. Consider three narratives explaining that:

1) The 'dominant media narrative' typified by 'maple syrup and fruit juice for meningitis'. This paints the Stephans as criminally naive innocents. (oxymoron intended) The idea here is that they believe a serious illness can be cured by a home brew of common generic grocery products, none of which, of course, are advertised as having medicinal value.

2) David Stephan's narrative; He's saying the media narrative is ridiculous, and asserting that he and and his wife were treating Ezekiel with established remedies 'known to work' by "tens of thousands of people". His claim is that they did indeed do "due diligence" by employing a spectrum of such 'believed to be proven' remedies, rather than just one. However he casts all those treatments in broad generic terms, e.g. "different homeopathic remedies, different herbal remedies," in an attempt to invoke any and all beliefs in Alt-Med efficacy. The reference to homeopathy strikes me as a disingenuous appeal to popularity, since the remedies the Stephans gave Ezekiel were all herbals and/or vitamin compounds, not homeopathic dilutions.

I consider both of these narratives false, as they obscure the key truth I noted above: the Stephans' primary treatments for their son were products sold by their family business, marketed specifically (and fraudulently) as cures for serious illness, and sold at outrageous profit which is the sole source of income for David and Collet Stephan. Thus, the 'true' narrative:
3) The Stephans treatment of their sons meningitis was indistinguishable and inseperable from the family's supplement scam, which has already been implicated in a series of horrors (murder, criminal assault...) as well as the outrageous bilking of any number of vulnerable sick people. The Truth here is that David and Collet Stephan had a powerful financial motive for how they did and didn't act in response to Ezekiel's condition.
_________

Before anyone gets too sympathetic for David Stephan's loss, consider this:

After customers buy a product from the Truehope website, they receive a 'follow up' phone call from the Truehope 'support team', which is actually a bunch of product salesfolk in a telemarketing boiler room pretending to medical knowledge. The 'support specialist' then requests all sorts of medical information for the customer  -  diagnosis, history, current meds. "Our support staff can't help you if they don't have a full picture," one hesitant customer was told. The 'help' that comes with the 'full picture', not surprisingly is the 'support specialist' telling the customer they need to buy various other costly Truehope products for whatever-they-bought-first to work properly for their condition, including the scare tactic of avoiding supposed 'drug interactions'. By this method, Truehope racks up huge bills for patients with serious psych problems they convince to go off their meds.

One such customer was a young schizophrenia patient from Ottowa named Caro Overdulve. From The Ottowa Citizen [condensed]

Overdulve told his parents his prescription anti-psychotics were making him gain weight and were giving him insomnia. The doctors weren't listening, he complained. He paid for the first few months of Empowerplus himself, selling his car to pay. His parents, willing to try anything that might help their son, agreed to foot the rest of the bill, arranging for automatic credit card deductions. Over four months, they were billed six times, for a total of more than $1,600. The next month, they were charged $1,248 for an additional six-month supply of the pills.

When they went to visit their son, they found his townhouse filthy. Pots with the charred remains of food were piled in the sink. Drinking glasses and mugs containing liquids were floating islands of mold. Caro was taking 32 capsules a day, eating them by the handful, often missing his mouth, scattering capsules everywhere. He had racked up $600 on his phone bill for calls to a Truehope support line, even though the center had a toll-free line. The Overdulves refused to buy more of the supplements. And their son slipped away from them.

Over the next year, he moved through a string of apartments, rooming houses and homeless shelters, and was hospitalized three times. He accused his father of working for the Mafia and threatened his newborn nephew. Eventually, he was charged with assault, mischief and criminal harassment after a tenant in his building reported he had been struck and obscenities were carved into his door.

Truehope has driven a wedge between the Overdulves and their son, said Mrs. Overdulve. "He listens to them, not to us. There is no getting beyond it," she said. "Anyone who knew him before doesn't even recognize him now."

So, drill this into your brains, folks: David Stephan is the Director of Marketing at Truehope. Guiding that team of 'support specialists' in bleeding the Caro Overdulves of the world is HIS JOB, how he spends his days at work.
________
* apologies for my brain-fart in referring to a 'verdict' in #33; I meant the sentencing hearing, duh...

There is no reason that both can’t be true at the same time. After all, David Stephan himself states in the video that they were treating Ezekiel with homeopathic remedies and herbal medicine.

Of course he does. He's dancing the bullshit dance. Taking all his versions of the tale into account, it's clear they were relying primarily on Truehope products initially, and then added additional herbal nostrums as "due diligence" when Ezekiel took turns for the worse. There are echoes of legalese
here that lead me to suspect Tony Stephan counseled his son to add treatments to deflect blame from falling on Truehope alone after Meynders alerted the family to the possibility of meningitis.

Yes, it’s about their reliance on Truehope, but the broader perspective is their rejection of the mainstream.

Nope. That has it backwards. The broader rejection of the mainstream stems from their reliance on Truehope – as their sole source of income, the scam that puts the food on their table, the spiffy roof over their head, a new car or two in the garage. David Stephan is a grifter, born to grifter parents, raised in the family grift along with his grifter brothers and sisters. Ezeziel was probably bound for the grift, too, before he got sacrificed to it.

The parents’ being in the thrall of Truehope was only one manifestation of their mystical, pseudoscientific world view that lead to Ezekiel’s end.

They weren't IN 'the thrall'. They WERE 'the thrall'. Generating, perpetuating and obscene profiteering on the thrall is David Stephan's 9-to-5. He IS Truehope. It's not a manifestation in the Stephans. It's the source.

If you want an example of someone in the thrall of Truehope, try Caro Overduve and Jordan Ramsay.

if you want to make a comment about ideology's role in Ezekiel's death, it helps to know some ideology theory. The "mystical, pseudoscientific world view" of 'natural health' in general and supplement cures more specifically only has force when held by a certain critical mass of people who reproduce it and spread it, such that it can operate as an alternative reality appearing as 'just so' or 'common sense' within some socio-cultural subgroup. So, yeah, that ideology did indeed lead to Ezekiel's end, as it existed long before Tony Stephan began his Pig Pill racket, creating the conditions that made that grift possible, and so lucrative that David and Collet sold their minds and souls to its terms.

There is no reason that both can’t be true at the same time. After all, David Stephan himself states in the video that they were treating Ezekiel with homeopathic remedies and herbal medicine.

Of course he does. He's dancing the bullsh!t dance. Taking all his versions of the tale into account, it's clear they were relying primarily on Truehope products initially, and then added additional herbal nostrums as "due diligence" when Ezekiel took turns for the worse. There are echoes of legalese here that lead me to suspect Tony Stephan counseled his son to add treatments to deflect blame from falling on Truehope alone after Meynders alerted the family to the possibility of meningitis.

Yes, it’s about their reliance on Truehope, but the broader perspective is their rejection of the mainstream.

Nope. That has it backwards. The broader rejection of the mainstream stems from their reliance on Truehope – as their sole source of income, the scam that puts the food on their table, the spiffy roof over their head, a new car or two in the garage. David Stephan is a grifter, born to grifter parents, raised in the family grift along with his grifter brothers and sisters. Ezeziel was probably bound for the grift, too, before he got sacrificed to it.

The parents’ being in the thrall of Truehope was only one manifestation of their mystical, pseudoscientific world view that lead to Ezekiel’s end.

They weren't IN 'the thrall'. They WERE 'the thrall'. Generating, perpetuating and obscene profiteering on the thrall is David Stephan's 9-to-5. He IS Truehope. It's not a manifestation in the Stephans. It's the source.

If you want an example of someone in the thrall of Truehope, try Caro Overduve and Jordan Ramsay.

if you want to make a comment about ideology's role in Ezekiel's death, it helps to know some ideology theory. The "mystical, pseudoscientific world view" of 'natural health' in general and supplement cures more specifically only has force when held by a certain critical mass of people who reproduce it and spread it, such that it can operate as an alternative reality appearing as 'just so' or 'common sense' within some socio-cultural subgroup. So, yeah, that ideology did indeed lead to Ezekiel's end, as it existed long before Tony Stephan began his Pig Pill racket, creating the conditions that made that grift possible, and so lucrative that David and Collet sold their minds and souls to its terms.

Ross, I take your point in the fallibility of judges, particularly with regard to matters of science. I suspect, without good basis for doing so, that in this case the judge is likely to be disinclined to accept an assertion that an autopsy was "falsified", as something I see a quite distinct from "erroneous" - the former a deliberate attempt to deceive by someone who is an officer of the court, or very close there-to.

Again, as with the notion of the mask/intubation issue, I would have expected the defense lawyer to hammer the point very hard at trial if there was reason to believe it would help the defense case. As my brother says, drawing a parallel between trials and internet trolls, testimony not challenged tends to be accepted as true.

Would any of our path' experts care to explain this phase from the autopsy report "organizing acute suppurative neutrophilic inflammation of the meninges"? I understand it in general, but I don't know what "organizing" means here. Could this result from viral infection?

Regardless of whether the meningitis was bacterial or viral, had the little guy's parents acted even a couple of hours sooner, he could have been in intensive care in the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary before the clock marked the time at which he first stopped breathing. Instead, by the time he got there it was too late, and his remains made the short trip just down the hill to Medical Examiner's building.

@ Sadmar

Before anyone gets too sympathetic for David Stephan’s loss

Oh, I was not going to be any sympathetic for the parents.
And I see your point about the TrueHope.

@ Eric Lund

Granted that I am not an expert in “natural treatments”, but I don’t see why somebody would think these things are helpful for treating flu or croup in a toddler.

Since at least a decade, garlic is currently very popular at being a supposed cure for the flu. I guess a similar narrative could be found for the others. Garlic, onions and other plants with a strong taste always had some good PR as folks' herbal remedies.
Heck, physicians treating the plague victims during the Renaissance were putting cloves and other flagrant herbs in the nose of their weird "gas mask" to protect themselves.

The Stephans didn't invent this cure by spices all by themselves. There are plenty of other people who would think it's a good idea. Not that would actually make it a good idea.

Maybe that's another thing we should keep in mind: the Stephans are not outliers in the alt-med world. They are espousing all the mainstream ideas of the average science denier.
Stephan may have been telling the true when saying that, in North America, "tens of thousands of people do" treat their children with similar mixes of snake oil pills and homemade herbal concoctions.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

"Since at least a decade, garlic is currently very popular at being a supposed cure for the flu. I guess a similar narrative could be found for the others. Garlic, onions and other plants with a strong taste always had some good PR as folks’ herbal remedies."

Well, garlic, onions and assorted other aromatics are an effective treatment for a flavorless meal. Some were even documented for being antimicrobial in food items, preserving the food for a bit longer than it would have otherwise have lasted, in an era before refrigeration. As an enteric cure for disease, not so much at all.
Still, a half of a cigarette eaten can help stun some worms, permitting them to pass, if one didn't have *real* medication available. That would allow one to complete a mission, then one could receive definitive treatment.*

"Heck, physicians treating the plague victims during the Renaissance were putting cloves and other flagrant herbs in the nose of their weird “gas mask” to protect themselves."

That was courtesy of miasma theory, the theory that malodorous things transmitted disease. As an anti-infection palliative, utterly ineffective. As a method of avoiding the odor to some decree from purifying wounds, meh, maybe it might have helped a little.

*Special Forces Medical Handbook

By Wzrd1 (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Helianthus (not verified)

Would you guess the members of The Dietary Supplement Caucus would be familiar with The Natural Health Products Protection Association – a non profit with "the sole object" of "protecting access to Natural Health Products and Dietary Supplements" by "identifying and responding to threats facing the Natural Health Product and Dietary Supplement industry"?

Like maybe the NHPPA would lobby that caucus, and the caucus would be friendl to the NHPPA?

The President of the The Natural Health Products Protection Association is one Shawn Buckley, LLB, Collet and David's defense lawyer, and Truehope's long-time legal mouthpiece in it's long history of troubles with lawsuits and the Canadian authorities.

And here, courtesy of the Calgary Sun live feed (http://tinyurl.com/j5z2t9h), is what Attorney Buckley is doing this afternoon:

Crown in the meningitis death intends to show a video as part of its argument of an interview between the Stephans and the makers of Vaxxed.
In the interview the Stephans say they were charged because they didn't vaccinate their children including Ezekiel.
The producers of Vaxxed question why the Stephans were charged saying the court process was part of an "incredible, lying machine.
Defence now objecting to the Crown playing a video interview David Stephan gave to a anti-vax documentary maker.
Defence desperate to quash video of David&Collet #stephan outside #yyc theatre blaming ambulance for son's death. Could impact sentence.
Prosecutor Clayton Giles says the Stephans gave the interview. "They can not be surprised by the content of an interview they provided."
Defence lawyer now making excuses about his client's lack of remorse caught on video. He's blaming the media too. All the media's fault.
Apparently all of the problems facing the Stephans can be tied to - ta da - the media. Shawn Buckley arguing against anti-vax interview.
Justice Jerke going to hear anti-vax interview. "We will see how relevant in due course".
Defence fails. Judge says play TouTube video, showing #stephan blaming ambulance for son's death. Airing in court now.
Judge gives guilty parents a withering stare as videographer calls court/media a "lying machine" on video willingly made by #stephan
Words now haunting David #stephan as Crown says it shows he lacks remorse and wasn't genuine in trial. Pre-sentence video rant=bad idea.

Nope. That has it backwards. The broader rejection of the mainstream stems from their reliance on Truehope – as their sole source of income, the scam that puts the food on their table, the spiffy roof over their head, a new car or two in the garage. David Stephan is a grifter, born to grifter parents, raised in the family grift along with his grifter brothers and sisters. Ezeziel was probably bound for the grift, too, before he got sacrificed to it.

Nope. Not buying it. The very reason Truehope exists in the first place is due to a broader rejection of mainstream medicine based on a pseudoscientific mystical world view.

They weren’t IN ‘the thrall’. They WERE ‘the thrall’. Generating, perpetuating and obscene profiteering on the thrall is David Stephan’s 9-to-5. He IS Truehope. It’s not a manifestation in the Stephans. It’s the source.

Again, there's no reason both can't be true at the same time. Stephan could be the "thrall" and be in the thrall at the same time. At the very minimum, judging by the looks on his wife's face, she was/is in the thrall. It's all very cult-like. Consider, for instance, Scientology. David Miscavige is arguably a believer, but also a grifter who uses Scientology for profit and control. Slightly lower down the food chain, Tom Cruise is a high ranking member of the church and clearly a believer, one of the duped. However, his status is such that he gains considerable perks from his belief. I'd tend to liken Tony Stephan to Miscavige and David Stephan to Tom Cruise.

And here, courtesy of the Calgary Sun live feed (http://tinyurl.com/j5z2t9h), is what Attorney Buckley is doing this afternoon:

Yes, it was very stupid of David Stephan to allow himself to be used by the VAXXED crew this way. Now he and his wife are likely to pay the price, while Del Bigtree can more effectively paint them as martyrs to the cause and portray any harsher sentence they get as potentially being due to their having spoken out.

Would any of our path’ experts care to explain this phase from the autopsy report “organizing...."

IANOOOPE. "With resolution of [bacterial] meningitis, cells disappear in the order in which they appeared." (I think this should start on the first of the three relevant pages.)

Neutrophils, as first responders, peak early in viral (aseptic) meningitis. I don't know that they really have a plausible nonbacterial explanation for why they're hanging out on the corner of Meninges and Purulence.

Narad @ 77:

There is no plausible explanation for neutrophilic inflammation, gram-negative bacilli on microscopy, and H. influenza DNA detection by PCR, other than bacterial meningitis caused by H. influenzae.

At least not in the real world.

Re: validity of H. influenzae detection by PCR: the autopsy report doesn't go into details, but I presume that the laboratory they send their specimens to hasn't validated a PCR test for H. influenzae detection in CSF collected before or after death. My lab has, but we see so few cases of HiB meningitis nowadays (due to the spectacular impact of immunisation) that it it hard to keep the test validated...

""The moral culpability in this matter is at the extreme low level," said Buckley." (Defence lawyer)

What?
These two careless parents made decisions over many years which all added up to a risk which took the life of their child.
They chose to not vaccinate their child, they chose to deny their child access to medical care, and the child died as a result.
They now blame the ambulance and suggest there was nothing wrong with their child.
...and the judge looks like accepting the argument that the loss of the child is a "punishment" that is presumably supposed to mitigate against the sentence that will be imposed.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

There is no plausible explanation for neutrophilic inflammation, gram-negative bacilli on microscopy, and H. influenza DNA detection by PCR, other than bacterial meningitis caused by H. influenzae.

I was working from scratch, man. I only got to "trying to make an abscess" a little while ago.

^ Sorry, I failed to add that the whole point was trying to figure out what "organizing" meant in this context as a result of doug's comment.

Stephan could be the “thrall” and be in the thrall at the same time

The only thing I can think of now is the Gamesters of Triskelion.

Narad,

In this context, the term "organizing" refers to the grouping of neutrophils together; its a feature of acute bacterial inflammation.

Apologies for the haughty tone of my previous response, it was more directed at idiotic naysayers who have suggested that the findings were not in keeping with acute bacterial meningitis.

As a clinician and a pathologist, Ezekiel's case is a "slam dunk" in terms of diagnosis; you rarely get a more classical presentation and characteristic pathologic findings than this.

Apologies for the haughty tone of my previous response

Oh, I didn't grep any tone one way or the other. The whole first-principles deal is just the residue of Robert Maynard Hutchins, which can be a real pain in the ass as a default.

The interview Del did of the Stephans was shown in court. For the prosecution. It helped to show the Stephans lacked remorse. Kaboom! Bigtree you are such a numptey.

At least Bigotree and his pals aren't offering anything useful to the Stephans, they're just sending them prayers and love.

And the video - which is indeed rage-inducing, ends with Polly saying "Everyone loves you". Um... no. I don't love you, David, I think you're a (censored).

His statement about parents needing to worry about whether or not they can be prosecuted for a decision they make is ludicrous. All parents have always been able to be prosecuted for the decisions they make if they are of a poor enough quality - that is the whole point. There is a minimum standard you need to meet as a parent, that standard was not invented 4 years ago because of Ezekiel's death, it is long-standing - AND YOU BOTH FAILED TO MEET THAT STANDARD. FFS.

Sorry for yelling.

By Can't remember… (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

Who made the first 911 call? If Colette had suspected how ill the child was, would she have dared to even disagree with David, let alone act against his wishes?

“Heck, physicians treating the plague victims during the Renaissance were putting cloves and other flagrant herbs in the nose of their weird “gas mask” to protect themselves.”

That was courtesy of miasma theory, the theory that malodorous things transmitted disease. As an anti-infection palliative, utterly ineffective.

Weirdly enough, not ineffective. Oil of cloves kills the plague bacillus. So right, albeit for completely the wrong reasons.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

Oil of cloves kills the plague bacillus. So right, albeit for completely the wrong reasons.

Well, oil from lavender and a few other plants do have antibacterial/antifungal properties - so one can imagine that the idea of using these plants, or garlic, has originated from some observation of a real phenomenon. Or, in the case of the plague, after a few centuries of trial and error, people managed to catch a few effective things.

Now, there are all the issues of pharmacology. Are the active substances concentrated enough in a homemade herbal remedies to be effective bacterial killers, are these substances toxic at these effective concentrations for the patient, is it possible to achieve these effective concentrations inside the human body (i.e. can we accumulate them faster than they are eliminated)?

tl;dr: a good number of natural substances have antibacterial activity in a petri dish or as a topical application (e.g. antiseptic cream). But the number of these which can be safely ingested/injected and remain useful is much smaller.
Especially for treating an infection in places which are difficult to reach, like the meninges.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

@Helianthus, as I mentioned, garlic was a known food preservative in the pre-refrigeration era. Those hot peppers we enjoy as a spice actually had some mild effect against some intestinal worms. Thyme has antibiotic properties and hence, was a food preservative alongside garlic.
But, once one digests those spices, one gains no therapeutic value from them beyond nutritional gains and perhaps, antioxidants.
Chamomile tea has actually been studied and shown to have mild to moderate antihypertensive properties, but nowhere as effective as current antihypertensive medications.
Much of our early 20th century medicine came from herbal sources, where we purified and standardized dosages and patients benefited and more importantly, harm was reduced.

Here's a question for the herbal types, you've had a heart attack and you need digitalis, would you want foxglove tea, with a random dosage or digoxin, precisely prescribed?
Personally, I'll go with precision. I know what I'm getting, rather than risking digoxin toxicity or underdosage.
Of course, a cardiologist would stick with digoxin or one of the more modernized analogs and I'd stick with what the specialist wants to use. That's especially true, as I show "Salvador Dali's mustache" in my usual ECG pattern, courtesy of damage caused by a heat stroke. That sends the ECG analysis software into a tizzy complaining of "Digitalis effect", yeah, I'll stick with the professional and precision dosing. :)

By Wzrd1 (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Helianthus (not verified)

@Helianthus

Yeah, ADME issues kinda get in the way of most natural "remedies". Scott Gavura had a great talk about it at this year's NECSS.

@ mho

Who made the first 911 call?

I believe it was the dad who did both calls. An news article covering the trials had the audio files on its webpage (I cannot find it again).

If Colette had suspected how ill the child was, would she have dared to even disagree with David, let alone act against his wishes?

Now we are plainly speculating.
Although calling on the advice of a friend nurse and then on a ND would indicate that both parents knew that something was not right with Ezekiel. Plus, the reported signs were hard to miss. So there is no "suspecting", just "denial".
Now, as for either of the Stephans being able of an independent thought...

Um, I just realized I was about to be confusing Collet and the other idiot of a doula who let her three children get pertussis one after another, while still visiting pregnant women.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

If Colette had suspected how ill the child was, would she have dared to even disagree with David, let alone act against his wishes?

We don't know, but it's sure a good question. Also, If David had suspected how ill his son was, would he have dared to even take issue with Tony, let alone act against Tony's wishes?

We do know that David was away at work when Collet got Terrie Meynders to come over, received the suspicion of meningitis, performed the Brudzinski tests, and called Lethbridge Naturopathic to seek an additional immune system booster.

The call to Vataman is especially suggestive of going off the Truehope reservation. Tony Stephan is supposed to be THE supplement expert, Truehope OLE is supposed be the be-all-and-end-all of immune boosters, and the Truehope Support Team is supposed to be THE expert in suggesting more supplements to supplement Truehope supplements. In essence, Collet was out for 'second opinions', and she didn't tell David about them until AFTER she got them.

We might also wonder whether David would even have bothered to drive into Lethbridge to pick up the Blast if the couple hadn't had to visit their attorney to sign purchase documents, and do a shopping run at Superstore.

I followed some links to the media stories about the Stephans and noticed some other "failing to provide the necessaries" stories about children on the wrong side of ideology: a mother who treated her kid's staph infection 'holistically' and he died, and Seventh Day Adventist parents who killed their child with a restrictive diet.
I can only guess that you see what you want to see and denial is a powerful force for harm.

Collet said her son's death was the "most horrible thing that ever happened" in her life

You know what, Collet? Your son's death wasn't the worst thing that ever happened I your son's Ezekiel's short life--that would have been the two weeks he suffered with his condition rapidly deteriorating while you and your husband did nothing.

You are not the victim here.

That's an awesome article, Dorit. Thank you. Yes, Ezekiel needs to be returned as the focus of this trial. The fact that he suffered horribly and died needlessly.

What baffles me in their defense that the mother researched menengitis online and thought he had viral meningitis, so he could be treated at home. So I googled it. It shows that, yes, most viral meningitis is with the usual rest and pain killers. It also quickly shows that the only way to tell the difference is by medical testing, viral is generally not severe, but still can be, and whichever type you turn out to have, really, go see a docotr immediately. It says something when even their defense of their actions highlights their arrogance.

Orac:

There IS a reason both can't be true at the same time. Check the OED. "In the thrall" means a relationship of subservience and exploitation, having come from an old German word for a medieval serf. It's not about belief. You say an abused woman is in thrall of her husband. You don't say slave-owners were in the thrall of racism.

Anyway, I think it's quite possible Collet was more "in the thrall" than of the thrall. For example, I've thought the calls to Meynders and Vataman might have been her going 'off the reservation' out of concern the OLE wasn't doing the job, since David wasn't present.

In taking David Stephan as "in the thrall" you're not considering that as Director of Marketing he's intimately involved in the day to day business of working over customers wirh schizophrenia and bipolar disorder for thousands of dollars of worthless pills as replacements for, not supplements to, anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers.

At the point Caro Overdulve's psychosis was so bad he was throwing handfuls of Truehope pills at his mouth so haphazardly he was scattering misses all over the floor, the Truehope Support line kept leading him on to the tune of $600 in phone charges on top of whatever he could scrounge for the pills. Decent human beings would have told anyone in his condition to see a doctor about getting back on their meds. Truehope didn't even tell him they had a toll-free number.

The telephone sales routine comes from David's department at Truehope. It's his job. What he does. Who he is. He's in charge of MARKETING, and with his son lying brain dead in the hospital, David was feeding the OLE sales pitch to the RCMP as 'evidence' of providing proper care for for the toddler, extolling OLE as one of "the most powerful and most well-recognized" remedies, "very well-recognized for being anti-fungal, anti-viral, all that stuff".

Scientology's the wrong analogy. Truehope is to SMI as HHI is to cancer. David Stephan is just a JV Brian Clement. Clement started at HHI as a 'client' back when Ann Wigmore was running the show, so he's a 'believer'. But that hardly puts him on the same plane as Makayla Sault. What defines grifters like Clement, Burzynski, and the Stephans is that the belief and the grift are so intermingled that even they can't separate them. But they're 'the thrall' because they're gaining power, prestige, and money-money-money from exploiting the rubes in their thrall.
___________

Do you really think for one minute Tony Stephan and Shawn Buckley were out of the loop on the meeting with Bigtree? This isn't just Del using David and Collet Stephans, it's Tony Stephan and Shawn Buckley using the anti-vax warriors to create a face-saving narrative that can propel Truehope past the verdict. The Crown was just out to get these "caring:. "attentive", "responsible", "best parents ever" because they were 'health freedom' activist vax resistors, donchaknow.

Meetthestephans.com (author unidentified, but clearly associated with the family) blares "David was profiled and targeted by the government of Canada before Ezekiel died" and puts forth a Gamondes-grade conspiracy theory that the ME falsified Ezekiel's autopsy, and the prosecution knowingly buried X-Ray evidence that would have proved 'Zeke' only had viral meningitis and his death was solely due to the EMTs having the wrong equipment. See, it's all a high-level cover-up to shield the Big Medicine murderers, and shift the blame onto the true healers, lest they tip over Big Pharma's illegitimate apple cart.

It was very stupid smart of David Tony Stephan to allow himself arrange for his family to be used by the VAXXED crew this way. Now [David and Collet] are likely to pay the price, while Del Bigtree Tony's shills can more effectively paint them as martyrs to the cause and portray any harsher sentence they get as potentially being due to their having spoken out.

FTFY.

"The interview Del did of the Stephans was shown in court. For the prosecution. It helped to show the Stephans lacked remorse. Kaboom! Bigtree you are such a numptey."

I think he did it to exploit them, not support them. Should they get a harsh sentence he will use them again by labeling them as martyrs to the cause. That is, his actions are more likely evil than foolish. Just like AW, his new BFF.

Given that the judge has already said that the prosecution's recommendation for a 3.5-4 year sentence is way past his thinking on the issue, don't expect a "harsh" sentence.

Although supporters would view anything more than a pat on the back and an apology from authorities as harsh.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

@ Terrie

What baffles me in their defense that the mother researched menengitis online and thought he had viral meningitis, so he could be treated at home.

I have troubles wrapping my brain around this point, too.
Virus or bacteria, Ezekiel still suffered an event requiring an emergency ambulance to be called.

It's like the alt-med people are expecting mainstream medicine to make miracles.
I cannot decide if it's a ploy - putting expectations so high that, of course, real doctors will never meet them; or if their vision of medicine is more akin to white magic, with a good swath of religious-like faith.
It could be both, really.

And then I realize, in this case, it's simply grasping at straws to shift blame.
"You were wrong, it was viral, not bacterial, so there!"
Since no mainstream doctor had a chance to look at Ezekiel before his death, and thus any mistake still rest on the Stephans' lap, that's a very childish position, really.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

@Helianthus

Yep, that's something else I noted. Pretty much every mainstream medical site that discusses meningitis notes that you should at the very least call a doctor if there are symptoms of meningitis, regardless of viral or bacterial. Granted, she said that she also looked at "natural" medicine sites. No doubt some of those had recommendations for how to treat it oneself without going to the doctor.

Watching Bill Graveland's live tweets of the sentencing right now.

3 months for mom, 4 for dad

3 months at home that is. The sentences are pathetic, and the judge gave her far to much credit for her crocodile tears so late in the day.

"months"?

Oh, well, better than nothing, I guess.
And there is at least 2 years probation for each.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

@doug #106

Just to clarify your comment:

I understand that the sentence was 3 months house arrest for Collet and 4 months jail plus 2 months probation for David.

So, how many more children do they have left to kill, I mean neglect?

I seem to recall a similar kid gloves conviction in the US - right until a second child died the same way from a vaccine preventable infection.
The sentence was more in accordance with the actual severity of the crime and the children were removed from the household for good.

By Wzrd1 (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by RTMan (not verified)

Collet gets her time as house arrest. David will go to jail.

Sorry, that should be 2 years probation not months. It sounds like they both got 2 years probation after they serve their house arrest/jail time.

It is 2 years probation, not months, for both after the 3 and 4 month sentences.

David got the harsher sentence for lack of remorse, with the Judge citing the Bigtree video.

From Val Fortney's feed:

Judge: "Greater deterrence of Mr. Stephan is required." David's comments were more focused on consequences to himself than remorse. "Mr. Stephan loved his son" but still won't take responsibility for his actions in 2012. criticizing David Stephan's appearance on anti-vaxxer video. "The trial was not about vaccination." David Stephan's comments on video, blaming the ambulance for the child's death "demonstrates that Mr. Stephan trivializes Ezekiel's condition"; a "deflection of responsibility from him to others."
And it shows a continued indifference to the plight of the victim's condition at the time of the offence. David Stephan has shown no remorse, which demonstrates a higher degree of moral culpability.

In taking David Stephan as "in the thrall" you're not considering that as Director of Marketing he's intimately involved in the day to day business of working over customers wirh schizophrenia and bipolar disorder for thousands of dollars of worthless pills as replacements for, not supplements to, anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers.

So what? High ranking Scientology auditors are intimately involved in the day to day business of working over marks wirh schizophrenia and bipolar disorder for tens of thousands of dollars of worthless e-meter measurements and auditing as replacements for, not supplements to, anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers. Are you saying these auditors are not in the thrall of Scientology?

And, no, Scientology is a spot-on analogy, as it's a religion formed by a con man where the believers are both the con men and the conned.

“The interview Del did of the Stephans was shown in court. For the prosecution. It helped to show the Stephans lacked remorse. Kaboom! Bigtree you are such a numptey.”

I think he did it to exploit them, not support them. Should they get a harsh sentence he will use them again by labeling them as martyrs to the cause. That is, his actions are more likely evil than foolish. Just like AW, his new BFF.

Exactly. I can't prove it, but I'd be willing to bet that David Stephan wouldn't have gotten any jail time at all (like his wife), just house arrest (like his wife) or less, if it hadn't been for that video, which was shown in court. It was extremely foolish of David and Collet Stephan to allow themselves to be used by Bigtree that way mere days before their sentencing hearing.

David got the harsher sentence for lack of remorse, with the Judge citing the Bigtree video.

Yes, it was indeed incredibly stupid of David Stephan to have let Bigtree and Tommey shoot that video.

Orac: "It was extremely foolish of David and Collet Stephan to allow themselves to be used by Bigtree that way mere days before their sentencing hearing."

Certainly did not help. From yesterday's sentencing hearing twitter feed:

@SUNMichaelPlatt
Words now haunting David #stephan as Crown says it shows he lacks remorse and wasn't genuine in trial. Pre-sentence video rant=bad idea.
3:23 PM - 23 Jun 2016

Michael Platt
@SUNMichaelPlatt
Trivializing son's illness in video speaks to lack of #stephan remorse says crown. Pretty sure defence lawyer wishes he'd had muzzles.
3:27 PM - 23 Jun 2016

The judge also cited the difference between Collet and David's actions in support of the different sentences. Fortney:

Judge: but there were significant differences in their actions. Collet did research on Internet, called nurse friend.: David didn't do research, he decided to give additional supplements, took no real action when E had irregular breathing. "Mr. Stephan was clearly more willfully blind" than Collet Stephan. His moral culpability is greater.

Yes, the Scientology auditors can be said to be "in the thrall", just as the Truehope support staffers (all former/current customer believers, supposedly) can be said to be "in the thrall". David Stephan isn't "in the thrall" because the money's going into his bank account. He's the Master, not the serf.

Unless you go with David as Miscavidge and Tony as L. Ron. Then maybe say he's both. Thrall' would be the wrong term, per proper usage, but you could make the point with other language. But then you'd have to acknowledge that David wasn't acting on his own in some "stupid" way in talking to Bigtree, but just having his strings pulled by Tony and Shawn Buckley. Or figure that David is smart enough to understand Truehope's profits are more important to his self-interest than a short jail term.

From Truehope.com;

If you or your child suffer from autism and you want to address the cause effectively rather than "cover up" the symptoms with medication, Truehope EMPowerplus Advanced™ can help. Made up of 36 clinically proven vitamins, minerals, amino acids and anti-oxidants, Truehope's EMPowerplus Advanced™ could help with your autism. Extensive independent research shows that when the body and brain are provided with the essential nutrients found in EMPowerplus Advanced™, they are able to function properly—often negating the signs and symptoms of autism. Don't be fooled by imitations—only Truehope EMPowerplus Advanced™ contains these nutrients in a microground form so the body can easily absorb them into the bloodstream. Since the symptoms of autism are caused by chemical issues in the brain, why treat your autism with more chemicals? Try EMPowerplus Advanced™ today to see for yourself how nature can work in harmony with your body to help you feel like your best self.

David Stephan IS Director of Marketing for Truehope, and a partnership with Andy could bring Truehope a nice new market segment at AoA, TMR, etc. etc.

What sentence would the judge have given Stephan if he had been remorseful....?

@ Helianthus
I couldn't finish listening to that ambulance call, I just couldn't. It was too painful.
I know small rural communities are different than the city--but, jeez, the Stephans didn't know how to give an emergency responder directions to their own home?
And what was up with the ambulence dispathcer--the emergency services person took almost 2 minutes to get their address, before asking anything further about the child's condition?
I'm sure I'd learn more if I could finish the recording, but I just can't do it right now....

Are those other children still with the parents? It should be mandatory for those children to have a medical guardian and be brought to a medical professional until they reach the age of majority.

This just in,
The husband has been sentenced to 4 months jail time, and the wife to 3 months house arrest. They both have to do community service, they're on probation for a couple of years, and the kids have to see an actual MD every 3 months. !!
This is precedent setting I think. A win for our side for a change...and all it took was yet another death of a child.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/meningitis-trial-verdict-1.3552941

By Newcoaster (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

Sorry...didn't read all the other comments before posting this.

By Newcoaster (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

Maple syrup to treat meningitis and a child dies... that's called 'health freedom'?

These people can freely get their kids treatment while my country had recent news about vaccines being faked and are spread all over big cities?

What.

By chokercheese (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

Pathetic. Let your child die in terrible pain from an illness he would have likely survived had you, his parents, you know, the people tasked with putting him above all else, taken him to an actual fucking doctor, and that's what you get.

This is how much we value children. Don't let anyone say otherwise.

It's not a win. Nobody wins here.

Defence: Collet will be living with her father-in-law and his wife.

That would be Tony Stephan. So the remaining kids are out of the frying pan and into the fire...

Excerpts from the last day of the trial, before the sentencing:

Collet:

"I had a nightmare after we were charged of a SWAT team breaking into our house in the middle of the night and stealing our children," she said,

I would hope it was her guilty conscience talking, but I'ma afraid it's just her paranoia.
If only she could have nightmares of her children dying. Traumatic, but at least these would mean she is thinking of her children well-being before herself.
What's with the alt-med narcissism and their delusion to be at the centrer of the world?

Some random guy:

During the sentencing, a supporter burst into the courtroom and yelled: "The stewardship of children is the parents' responsibility!" before he was dragged out by security.

Why, yes, that's true. Thanks you, my good sir.
So we agree that the parents are responsible if, due to their bad decisions, something happen to their children.

Not that you meant? Oh, surely you don't advocate for responsibility without accountability.
This idea that people are not to be held accountable is a very weird position to have for people displaying publicly their deep religious beliefs.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

@#129, let's suffice it to say, mom and myself and wife shared a hell of a lot of common ground. PCOS, failed pregnancies and more. We found a hell of a lot of common ground, to the point of actually answering each sentences.

Mom would've sent me up the river and rightfully so. In that situation, I'd send my own wife up the river and rightfully so.
Our own daughters would do the same.
It *was* one thing we drummed into them: A sense of honor and protection of those defenseless.

Frankly, if either or both of our daughters disavowed that view, we'd disown them to the point of not even acknowledging their very births.
Children are first and foremost, they're precious, delicate in the beginning, a treasure for a culture at all.

As in, if I did that crap to my own grandchild, my own children would turn me in, with the full train of custody that related to them - in detail.
They also know, fail to follow that very train of honor, I'll be following ASAP with a knife.
It isn't quite an honor killing in some religion, it's a matter of ignoring honor, to the harm of a minor child.
I'd rather die than let one minor child be harmed.
Ever.
But, I do call into play, those who wanted or desired, regardless of intent, harm upon a child. Just as I have always desired.
Trust me, the conflict died early on...

By Wzrd1 (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Helianthus (not verified)

Of course the mother gets the weakest slap on the wrist out of the two. The sexism is alive and well in the court system. What a joke.

@ Amethyst

It's not that simple in this case.

To start with, I don't know in Canada, but in my country it's very rare to get a jail time for a first offense, unless we are talking bloody murder. The norm is probation, community service, and reprieve (deferment? I don't know the exact English word. You get a sentence, but you don't go to jail unless you commit another similar offense. French: sursis)
So in the current legal framework, in hindsight, a "slap on the wrist" was to be expected.

The judge explained why he gave David a higher sentence, and it sounds justified.

Out of the two parents, it's the mom which tried to do something outside of feeding the family's company's magical pills to Ezekiel. Granted, it didn't amount to much - an internet search and asking the opinion of a nurse friend and of a ND (she went into the ND's office, the dad stayed in the car).
Out of the two parents, the mom may have been the more sincere at expressing regrets. At least she cried. As I pointed above, I feel she is crying for herself, not for her children, but heck, if you care just about observing a ritual, close enough.

Out of the two parents, it's the dad which has been the more vocal about conspiracies, and about shifting the blame on the paramedics.
Out of the two parents, it's the dad which penned a letter on facebook, in which he said that the jury members have been duped by the Man. He doubled down later on this during his interview with the other narcissists from Vaxxed. In both cases, a clear implication of the dad's allegations was that the judge was part of a corrupt system, if not corrupt himself.
Frankly, David is lucky. I think the judge would have been in his rights to add "the accused insulted the Court" to the charges.

The mom may be as much a believer as the dad, but since she was less vocal, she got less. The dad was a much more visible proud nail looking for a hammer.

Also, from the judge's comments, I think he tried very hard to come to a judgement which didn't result in foster care, feeling it to be a worse solution than anything else*. We may disagree with him on this, but sending one parent in jail and the other on house arrest is making sense, in this context.
At least, he is separating them, and the dad from the children.

Now I had time to reflect on this, to me the most important part of the sentence is the probation and the obligation to bring the children to a public nurse every 3 months. At least the other children will have a chance.

The media coverage is also quite substantial. It's up to us skeptics to not forget Ezekiel as a clear exemple of what happens when a quack decide to cure a child with magical pills.
Because you could be sure the other side will quickly forget him. Yeah, they will remember the martyred parents. But Ezekiel? Pretty sure we will soon get a troll who will mangle or not remember his name.

* one comment from the judge was that the Crown failed to prove that failing to provide medical care was abuse (neglect or "wilfully blind", yes, but not abuse in the legal sense). A number of regulars here are on the opposite opinion, but that's not a widespread stance.

tl;dr: David has been openly a jerk. Since he wanted so much to be a martyr, the judge obliged.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

Not to minimize the following, but to contrast and compare sentencing in some recent Canadian animal cruelty cases with the sentencing in this human case:
2 years jail - "intentional" cruelty to a dog which did not die:
cbc(dot)ca/news/canada/windsor/windsor-dog-abuser-justice-1.3428729
.
6 months jail - "unintentional" cruelty - 6 dead dogs due to heat stroke in truck:
cbc(dot)ca/news/canada/british-columbia/emma-paulsen-b-c-dog-walker-gets-jail-time-for-animal-cruelty-1.2935040
.
I guess, just like many cases in the USA, it is more dangerous for the perp to harm or kill an animal than to harm or kill a human.

@Helianthus, I assume that suspended sentence is the term you are looking for. I.E. you stay out of jail as long as you keep your nose clean of similar type offences for the duration of the suspended sentence.

By John Phillips (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

Not to minimize the following, but to contrast and compare sentencing in some recent Canadian animal cruelty cases with the sentencing in this human case:

That's because parents own their children more thoroughly than they own dogs. No, I'm not kidding. That is the basic attitude: "These are my children, and the state can't tell me how to raise them."

To quote Rand Paul: "“The state doesn’t own the children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom.” This attitude is pretty much universal, apparently even in Canada.

@ John Phillips

Thanks, that sounds like it.

@ Reality/Orac

That’s because parents own their children more thoroughly than they own dogs.

I don't think Old Europe is that much different, in that regard.

There was a time, not so long ago, where "cruelty to animals" was not a legal concept. Well, you could be put on trial for damaging someone else's dog, and your neighbours could complain about side effects like the noise or smell resulting from the mistreated animals, but that was about it. You own it, you can put it to death, and anything in-between. Thank goodness, mentalities - and laws - have changed.

I guess pets were a lower-hanging fruit, compared to children; a topic easier to address, less polarizing. We still have some work to do with the latter topic.

I wonder if part of our "apathy" is because it's also easier to decide to remove someone's pets than someone's children, precisely because we have more empathy for little human beings than for other animals, so we are more hesitant about what to do.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

Now I had time to reflect on this, to me the most important part of the sentence is the probation and the obligation to bring the children to a public nurse every 3 months.

That's how I feel about it as well. I was initially disappointed at the insultingly brief sentences (Ezekiel lost his entire life and they lose 3 - 4 months?!), but ultimately, protecting the remaining children is more important than making an example of their parents.

In other anti-vax news..

today Dan Olmsted continues his article on polio; in the comments he says:
" a minor microbe turned into dangerous epidemics when certain toxins were present.
" kids hit with a load of mercury or aluminum or whatever crap is in today's ubiquitous pesticides get hit with three or four live viruses at age 1 and down they go"

In other words, he didn't take my advice about courses in life science. Oh well. * C'est la vie*

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

-btw-

In the early 1920s as a child, my mother used to like to visit a young woman who had a newborn baby. She really frightened her mother though when another child who lived there came down with polio- however despite the worries, neither she nor her siblings ever got sick- I suppose they were untainted by pesticides or suchlike. Green living and organic diets in 1922. Sure.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

How does Olmsted explain the presence of polio in, for example, ancient Egypt? I'm sure there's an explanation, but I'm not going to that nasty site to find out.

@Helianthus - A higher sentence I would've been fine with, but the fact that he gets prison time while she gets cushy house arrest? Nuts to that! Sure, she contacted a nurse friend, sure she Googled stuff but in the end what did she do?

She ignored everything the found that conflicted with her naturoquack beliefs.

If the father gets jail time, she should've as well - simple as that. What a farce.

@ Amethyst

If the father gets jail time, she should’ve as well

In my exalted opinion*, the dad got jail time for badmouthing the judicial system.
If he had kept his mouth shut and put some efforts in looking remorseful, maybe he would have had house arrest instead of jail, too.

* i.e. not even worth the electrons I have used to publish it

By Helianthus (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

@Ellie #142, Aliens?

By John Phillips (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

Orac said, "That’s because parents own their children more thoroughly than they own dogs. No, I’m not kidding. That is the basic attitude: “These are my children, and the state can’t tell me how to raise them.”"

I guess the lesson learned here is that the Stephans (and others) were lucky they only killed their child and not their dog. If they had killed their dog, or just "a dog", the entire All Nachrule Back To Nachure crowd would be after their blood.

I'm sure all the "health freedumb" maniacs are taking notes.

” kids hit with a load of mercury or aluminum or whatever crap is in today’s ubiquitous pesticides get hit with three or four live viruses at age 1 and down they go”

Too many beautiful hypotheses have been destroyed by making them specific, with details. Dan is determined to avoid that mistake.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

That's especially true, as I'm unaware of any pesticide in use today that contains aluminum, a rather common element, or mercury in them.
I do know of some that contain copper compounds. I guess the individual now thinks that pennies are bad.

Oh wait, they are bad for kids. They swallow them, their stomach acids strip the copper and then dissolve the zinc, leading to zinc toxicity. But, that's something totally different.

But, that reminds me, I'll have to pop out for a bit and pick up some Roundup, I'm nearly out and the weeds are winning the battle for my garden.

By Wzrd1 (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by herr doktor bimler (not verified)

I suspect the disparity between sentences for animal torturers and child torturers has something to do with precedent. It is quite common for people in Alberta to be prosecuted for offenses against animals but quite rare for people to be prosecuted for failing to provide the necessities of life. In the former case, as judge would have many other cases for reference for sentencing, in the latter, very few (as the judge in this case noted).

I think the prosecution missed an opportunity to go after the mother on the matter of "researching" on the internet, when it could have easily be shown that most sites discussing the possibility of meningitis instruct readers to promptly consult a physician, which she did not do. I think the judge also erred in giving her, apparently uncritically, credit for this so-called research.

There is another far worse case of killing a child slowly before the Alberta courts, though the case has been suspended until at least August. That is the case of the horrendous treatment and death of Alex Radita, whose parents are charged with murder. His parents failed to treat his diabetes, and when he died at age 15 he weighed just 37 pounds. His parents' motives in the neglect have been hard to discern from the reports I've seen. They failed to care for him, prayed for him, but didn't apparently resort to quackery as such. One news article.
I may attend the sentencing for this case.

Keep a couple of things in mind regarding the sentences. First, as regards the discrepancy between neglecting an animal vs. neglecting a kid, we know that taking kids away from their parents is traumatizing and results in lasting harm. We don't have a similar awareness for animals.

Second, (tied to the first) giving one parent jail time and the other parent house arrest ensures that the kids will be with at least one parent. An added layer of protection is in place with the requirement of being seen every 3 months by a public health nurse and at least once a year by an MD (not an ND).

Our sense of justice makes us want to see both parents in jail for at least several years, but we also need to think about the children that are still there. If both parents went to jail, the kids would probably end up with family members (who, by all accounts, don't seem to be much better than the parents with regard to beliefs in medical nonsense). So we're left with the same situation, but causing psychological harm to the kids in the process.

@ Ellie:

I don't know... GMO / arsenic laden papyrus- over-used by scribes ( all their sons got ASDs)?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

What's wrong with a bit of arsenic one and then? I prefer mine with a touch of strychnine and with a white phosphorus chaser. ;)

By Wzrd1 (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Denice Walter (not verified)

I think that the answers I receive/d here probably make much more sense than anything Olmsted would come up with.

By Ellie (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Denice Walter (not verified)

Second, (tied to the first) giving one parent jail time and the other parent house arrest ensures that the kids will be with at least one parent.

Sure, but... let me back up. I expected something similar to this, although the sentences do seem light. I don't even know what the point of "house arrest" for Collet is (nor do I have any notion of Canadian law, mind you). It's like sentencing someone to a pain in the ass.

I am, however, reminded of one corruption case in the Land of Lincoln – which I'm too tired to dig up, although Bob McDonnell in Virginia seems similar – where the convicted couple simply serve their incarceration terms one after the other.

It hardly matters in the grand scheme of things – maybe Collet actually learned something.

I'll admit, I'm a bit divided on this, likely, courtesy of a similar case here in the US. In the US case, the parents received a light sentence, even lighter than this one, for faith healing their child, who died.
The courts took a dimmer view when a second child from that household died from another easily treated disease.

Hence, my reticence for letting any of these idiots off easily - especially when they've shown the entire planet that they've learned nothing whatsoever from this tragedy.

By the same token, do we place them in prison, denying an entire family of both parents, income and creating a drain upon our society, with hardened criminals?
Honestly, if Solomon actually did live, I suspect he'd have one hell of a time deciding this one.
And to be honest, the entire case makes me incredibly, unspeakably angry.
I've helped handle response for epidemics of vaccine preventable diseases and saw the horrors of tiny graves being filled. My wife and I also wanted a large family, but out of 16 pregnancies, only two live births ensued. Medical misadventures removed the possibility for any further attempts.
One result of that is, we've long taken to adopting entire families, being a good friend with sage advice and a hand up in life.
On the other hand, we're incredibly protective of children, hence a known prejudice in cases like this. Neither of us could, in good faith, ever sit on a jury on a case like this and we'd tell the court so.
I also withhold my outrage, as it's a court in a foreign land to my own, their nation, their laws, their courts, their choice. I'll content myself to learn something new on what works and what doesn't.
While our good neighbors up north shake their heads over my nation and all of our guns...

In life, everyone has their purpose. Some, it seems, simply exist to proved an excellent example of a bad example. My goal is to not be that kind of an example.
Occasionally, I get it right. ;)

By Wzrd1 (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Narad (not verified)

@ Wzrd1

That’s especially true, as I’m unaware of any pesticide in use today that contains aluminum, a rather common element, or mercury in them.

You are misinterpreting Dan Olmsted's narrative (on purpose? Apologies if I missed the sarcasm).

That we are seeing here is a perfect case of religious syncretism.

- some people think that aluminium or mercury, notably in vaccines, cause autism or other issues (and let's not nitpick about which type of compounds are present, here - it's all "heavy metals")
- some people think that pesticides cause the same issues (pesticides like glyphosate, but no, not copper sulfate, this one is organic, don't you know)
- and finally*, GMOs cause the same issues (independently of any pesticide)

Dan is just writing all of these "theories" into a single narrative. Everybody will see parts of his own pet theory, everybody is happy.

But indeed, there is the interesting question of how such very different molecules could trigger the same health issues, in this case a polio infection.
(if if was only talking about similar symptoms - although, again, real life doesn't concur)

Oh, and thanks for sharing your experiences.

* I'm sure I forgot a few "theories". I'm not that obsessed with finding all of them.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

Erm, I'm all

By Wzrd1 (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Helianthus (not verified)

GMO / arsenic laden papyrus- over-used by scribes

Papyrus the typeface? My opinions of it are well-known (and not positive).

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

Given the circumstances, this is probably the best outcome that could be expected. It doesn't look that much like the parents have learned much of use from the experience; sadly. Locking them both up would have put the children into a worse situation - either foster care or their in-laws care. Other than a slavish adherence to useless supplements and alternative medicine, the parents were not otherwise subjecting the children to harm. Ensuring they have their mother and are seen regularly by a doctor is the best of several bad options. Not even a longer probation would help. It would simply increase the risk that the parents would be locked up for some trivial unrelated misdemeanor.

As Delphine noted above, nobody wins here.

And yes, I can't work out what Del Bigtree was thinking in doing this video. But then I have come to the conclusion he is just as much a narcissist as Andrew Wakefield and this video was really all about Del. Clearly, the falling out between Wakefield and Bigtree will be spectacular when it happens.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

I’ll admit, I’m a bit divided on this, likely, courtesy of a similar case here in the US. In the US case, the parents received a light sentence, even lighter than this one, for faith healing their child, who died.
The courts took a dimmer view when a second child from that household died from another easily treated disease.

Yep. You're talking about the Schaibles:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/05/28/religion-and-quackery-two-…

I hope none of the Stephan's other kids becomes seriously ill, or we'll be seeing the same story repeating itself in Canada.

@ herr doktor bimler:

No no no!
The scribes handled LOADS of papyrus whilst scribing and thus, passed on its TOXINS to their male children ( although scribes were men and that might be quite a feat as men are not usually preggers which is an easier pathway than the alternative but I digress).

I imagine that readers understand that I read much of Dan's theorising about how Kanner's subjects acquired autism ( via father's profession working with chemicals et al)

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

Wzrd@155: "By the same token, do we place them in prison, denying an entire family of both parents, income and creating a drain upon our society, with hardened criminals?"

Given these irreformable scumbags make their income selling vitamin pills to the mentally ill as replacement for their real medication, yeah, I think society can stand just a little more drain perfectly fine. Remember, this is not the first time the Stephans have killed. Honestly, I'd have more sympathy for the hardened criminals that have to tolerate these shits for as many years as the court can throw at them.

Oh, and I really wish people would stop badmouthing foster care as if it was the absolute last thing in the world that should ever be inflicted upon a child. My folks did fostering for more than a decade as I was growing up, and they're the finest people I know - even ended up adopting one of their placed kids as their own. Maybe it really is that terrible in the States, where everything seems corrupted by greed, graft, and apathy; and no-one is pretending it isn't hugely demanding and difficult on everyone involved, but welcome to hard reality. There's still a damn sight worse things that can be done to a child, like being abandoned to be the second innocent brutally tortured and killed by their so-called "loving parents" in devotion to their vile self-serving "religions".

FYI - Hooker's case with the NVICP is over....he lost.

Epically.

@ has
It probably would have been good to contact her before the sentencing, but still might be now. Natalie Clancy is the author of the article you linked to.
Often a newspaper will link to a reporter's email, but I couldn't find one on the www.cbc.ca site. I gather she writes from Vancouver, so she may not have followed the Stephan story, but would likely still have an interest in TruHope connections. I did find a note on the cbc.ca site that said often the best way to contact reporters is via their social media pages. Natalie Clancy is on Facebook and twitter, so perhaps you or Sadmar will be moved to write her.
I think the more we cultivate relationships with journalists, the more we have a chance to be heard. I'm not one to claim that I have done this successfully.

2 & 4 months?? WHAT???

In the USA, you can and, if you can't afford a well connected lawyer will get longer than that for driving with an expired or suspended license. Heck, a motorcyclist once got more than that for speed-testing his superbike (it hit 180 mph!). No accident, no injuries, way out in nowhere road.

But kill your kid 'cuz using the same scams you are pushing on other parents? Aww, you poor dear, take a little time off in a clean Canadian jail.

No, they need to be an example. I'd suggest a remedy involving a rope and the rapid action of gravity, but this offends modern sensibilities. A more suitable yet tempered sentence is seven and ten years (wife, husband) in Canada's version of violent offender's prison, to be housed with other organized crime figures. Then when they get out, each must to pay for their prison costs. That should keep them busy for a while.

By Spectator (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

@ has

I really wish people would stop badmouthing foster care as if it was the absolute last thing in the world that should ever be inflicted upon a child.

Oh, no complain here. I said I see why the judge was hesitant, not that I agree with him.
Actually, if anything, I wish the prosecution spent more time digging the "fed your own kid your company's pills" angle. They may have come closer to convince the judge that this was a case of abuse.
Or maybe not. Canada officials and culture have been very sympathetic to the naturopath/chiropractor approach, in the past decade, judging from what I have seen when I was living over there.
I found out that Canadians are wonderfully tolerant to all ways of life, on average, compared to my country (or the US). The downside is that, sometimes, I found them wonderfully tolerant to crap.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

As bad an outcome but better charges.

After authorities found a dead 4-month-old girl starved, injured and covered in bedsores, her parents told police they were too busy to take her to see a doctor.

That couple -- a 34-year-old man and 24-year-old woman -- were arrested Friday for the death of their daughter, who was found unresponsive in their home Thursday morning. Both are jailed on suspicion of murder.

Authorities were called about 5:45 a.m. to the 1400 block of 17th Street Northeast in Auburn on reports of an infant who was unconscious, not breathing and cold to the touch, an Auburn police detective said in court papers. Police and firefighters arrived to find the child "obviously deceased."

Auburn police noted the infant was "exceptionally thin and discolored," and that she had a significant sore on her chin.

The baby was lying on a mattress on the bedroom floor, appearing malnourished with her rib cage visibly protruding and muscles and bones visible through her skin, the detective said in court papers. She appeared to have little baby fat. Rather, her stomach was distended and the separation lines between her stomach muscles were visible. She also had a mysterious protrusion on her upper left rip.

The one-bedroom apartment was also home to two 2-year-old twins, according to the probable cause. Authorities found the household "unkempt and unsanitary" with what appeared to be feces and "biological waste" on the floors, the detective continued.

During a interview, the mother said their family had run errands for most of the previous day. She worked as a courier and kept the children in the car seven days a week for 10 hours or more per day, she is alleged to have told police.

The woman claimed she fed her baby a bottle about 10 p.m. Wednesday night before the family went to sleep.

She awoke to her baby stirring and grunting about 3 a.m. Thursday and tried to feed her a bottle, but the baby did not drink anything, so she went back to sleep.

According to the detective's statement, she told officers she checked on the baby again at 5 a.m. and noticed she wouldn't respond. She and the baby's father tried to revive her and reportedly debated on whether to take the infant to the hospital or call 911. They finally called for help 45 minutes later at 5:45 a.m.

The mother told police she fed her baby from a bottle every three hours, but that due to a new job, she had recently left the baby with the father for three days, police contend.

When interviewed, the father said he would feed the baby by propping a bottle on a blanket because he was "too busy around the house" to hold her and feed her by hand, the detective said in court papers.

The mother said she noticed her baby had been losing weight, but "she did not think it an important issue," the detective said. The father is alleged to have said he didn't notice much weight loss and that he didn't believe she suffered anything critical enough to take her to a hospital.

As to the baby's injuries, the mother claimed the marks on her face were a "small rash" that grew worse over time, according to the detective's report. She said she noticed the protrusion on the baby's rib cage three days earlier and that when she pushed on the bump the baby didn't show any sign of discomfort, so she didn't think it was a big issue, court records say.

The baby had reportedly not seen a doctor for two months. The mother said there were problems with insurance paperwork and that she ditched a wellness checkup a month before because she was "too busy with work," the detective said in court papers.

The autopsy indicated that the baby was 8.2 pounds at the time of her death after being born at 6 1/2 pounds. She had suffered multiple acute rib fractures on her left side, which were associated with the abscess protruding from her ribs. She also had multiple rib fractures on her right side, which caused internal bleeding.

She also had an ulcer on her buttocks, much like a bedsore, which led to an abscess moving up her spine.

She was in an "obvious state of malnourishment and dehydration," according to police reports, with almost no body fat. The medical examiner who looked at her indicated she had suffered obvious neglect and physical injury.

Police arrested the parents at their home about 3 p.m. Friday.

Only then did the mother explain the baby's facial injuries, blaming them on the father, according to police statements. She is alleged to have said the father lifted the baby in the air by biting her mouth, according to court records.

The mother also said she suffered physical abuse from the baby's father, the detective continued. She said he hit in her in the head and that during one incident, while he was chasing her around the house, he stepped on their baby, reports say. It was after that when she noticed the injuries to the baby's ribs.

Regardless, she maintained that she did not see any reason to seek medical care for her baby and that she denied the child was malnourished, the Auburn detective wrote.

The mother is held on $1 million bail. The father's bail will be determined Monday afternoon.

Lynsi Burton can be reached at lynsiburton@seattlepi.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LynsiBurton_PI.

Rich Bly@168:

...

F​uck, I got nothin. Some people simply aren't wired to be human. Made, not born, too.

Me, was gonna post this. Kid survives, but will be interesting to see how charges and sentencing and child welfare decisions compare to Stephans'. One man's narcotic is another woman's drug.

Part of the judgment against the Stephans included a requirement that they post the full ruling on their Prayers for Ezekiel Facebook page, according to an article on Vice. They've yet to do so.

The Stephans' posted a radiology report that they claim shows that Ezekiel died from lack of oxygen (due to the ambulance now having the correct equipment) and not due to meningitis:

http://www.meetthestephans.com/ctscans.html

Also, it sounds like the Crown is appealing the sentencing.

I find it remarkably hard to believe that copies of the images were not available to the defense (given, in part, that "scan" images can be replicated with all the info of the original at the push of some buttons). I'm slightly tempted to look for a transcript of the trial to see if the defense put a motion to compel their provision before the court. I know barely more law than the average squirrel, but I'm pretty darned sure if a judge orders evidence to be made available to the defense someone will be nailed for contempt or worse if it isn't provided. I don't recall seeing any report of suggestion of the grand coverup now alleged being brought during the actual trial - only in the desperate outburst of the mother at the sentencing hearing.

Regardless of any of that, I think a savvy prosecutor is likely to dwell significantly on the fact that wee Zeke would very likely not have quit breathing at all had his parents acted to seek real medical attention even a few hours earlier.

If the appeal goes ahead, it will probably be heard in Calgary (only two appeal courts in the province - the other is in Edmonton). I will attend.

A commenter active at the Calgary Herald (and banned from the Stephans' pages) who identifies herself as an imaging technician writes: "They only show the preliminary images which are for measurement sake to make it appear the brain looks clear! That scan isn't even started yet as shown on the images saying #1 of 30." ("This space intentionally left blank.")

http://calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/breakenridge-ezekiels-paren…

If this is true, either Sauvageau doesn't know how to read a CT scan, and is incompetent; or does, and is deliberately misleading. Either way, she's toast.

By Nemo Whilk (not verified) on 10 Jul 2016 #permalink

A commenter active at the Calgary Herald....

I'm still skimming through them, but I've seen two references to Jian Ghomeshi (likely from the same person). Was he actually a protracted news story in Canada?

Was [Jian Ghomeshi] actually a protracted news story in Canada?

Apparently so. Go figure.

More hanky-panky from the Stephans: evidently they've posted the ruling at long last, but backdated it to "June 27th."

http://www.newstalk770.com/2016/07/08/stephan-ruling-posted-crown-appea…

And the fantasy has reached new heights: "The chikd was 100% the morning he lost his breathing." As if his breathing were a binky.

By Nemo Whilk (not verified) on 10 Jul 2016 #permalink

It looks to me like the Stephans are basing their appeal on the idea that the judge gave "unfair" instructions to the jury. There are also some posts on the "Prayers for Ezekiel" page that hint that the judge refused to allow some evidence that he should have allowed and that new evidence has came to light after the conviction.

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that an appeal would take a long time to come to any sort of conclusion. Long enough that David and Collette would have served their time long before the appeal would ultimately be heard. I guess that one possibility is that if the crown were successful in getting a longer sentence on appeal, then appealing the conviction makes some sort of sense. But even in that case, appealing the conviction seems to me to be a lot of stress and cost for very little potential gain. It would however, open the door for soliciting (even more) donations on-line and keeping David in the spotlight... And keeping his family's supplement business in the spotlight...