Conviction Upheld For Parents Who Let Their Toddler Die of Meningitis

David and Collet Stephan let their son Ezekiel die from meningitis after suffering for two weeks. They did this because they promoted the pseudoscientific alternative medicine known as naturopathy and had a deep distrust of modern medicine. Instead of taking Ezekiel to a hospital, they gave him hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish and onion. These are just plants. They have no relevant and well-tested activity against meningitis symptoms or the pathogens behind it. A trial began after several years and resulted in both parents being convicted for failing to provide the necessaries of life.

David Stephan got 4 months in prison, while Collet Stephan got 3 months in house arrest. The divergent sentences were due to the fact that Collet actually took some steps to investigate the disease that had struck their son, whereas David just went out and bought more useless supplements. The prosecutors thought the sentence were way too lenient and decided to appeal the case. So did the convicted defendants.

Despite going through this process, David and Collet continues to believe that they are innocent and David appears entirely remorseless and continues to sell naturopathic quackery products. Early in 2017, the appeal trial began.

Now the results are in: their arguments were rejected and their appeal was dismissed. Justice for Ezekiel was upheld, but we have not seen the last of this case yet. The appeal for the prosecution is still to be handled, and the convicted defendants have the option of appealing the the Canada Supreme Court that will be forced to take up their case due to a dissenting minority opinion.

Why was the appeal dismissed?

The legal representation for David and Collet Stephan used two arguments for why the conviction should be overturned.

The first accused the prosecution of using too many experts, that the technical medical terms was too much for the jury, and that some defense experts were not allowed to testify in a satisfactory manner. This was dismissed because there was no evidence that the judge had made a mistake in allowing expert testimony from the prosecution, that the judge performed adequate gate keeping in restricting defense testimony and that jurors are not as ignorant and incompetent as the defense insinuated.

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The second argument claimed that the delay exceeded 30 months and thus violated the rights of the accused according to the 2016 Jordan decision that was previously discussed in the case of Tamara Lovett who let her son die of a strep infection. The court dismissed this argument because the Crown calculations only found a delay of 30 months once delays due to the defense was subtracted from the total sum.

In other words, the appeal was dismissed on all counts.

Another rage-filled outburst on Facebook by David Stephan

When the previous conviction in the lower court was delivered, David Stephan went on a long and incoherent tirade on Facebook. He superficially and theatrically declared his deep love for the jury, but claimed that the prosecution had pulled the wool over their eyes and that there was now a dangerous precedent. David spins the conviction for letting his child die due to withholding real medicine into a way for the government to convict people just because they disagree with their parenting style. He showed no sense of personal responsibility and blames it all on others.

Just like before, David went on another self-obsessed rant on Facebook when the appeal was dismissed.

After over 8 months, the decision of the appeal is finally in and what a rollercoaster of emotions!

The appeal was dismissed. David and Collet Stephan are now criminals that have been convicted twice for failing to provide the necessaries of life to their toddler Ezekiel who developed meningitis and died after withholding real medical treatment for two weeks.

On one hand we are filled with gratitude that we just recently paid off the $500,000+ debt that was incurred due to the court case. We are so grateful to all those who assisted in this as over $150,000 of that half a million was paid for through donations. But on the other hand we are not excited about the fact that the legal fees are now going to start accumulating again.

The court costs are a result of the fact that they lost. It is not unreasonable and it is money that they owe the government. The sentences they got was very lenient, only a few months in jail and house arrest, respectively. Taking into account donations, the 350 000 USD debt is a small comfort. They claim that they are “not excited” about their legal costs growing again, but it is the cost you pay to lose in the legal system.

On more of a personal matter… as a family we have been overcome with joy as today is my wife’s due date and we are ready to welcome the newest member of our family into our lives. However, we are dismayed that I will no longer be able to be there to support my wife through the birthing process and meet the newest member of our family until I get out of jail.

David wants his readers to feel sorry for him that he will miss the birth of his next child. But this is because he and Collet indirectly caused the death of their son Ezekiel. There is no reason to feel sorry for David, a convicted criminal, but there is plenty of reasons to feel sorry for poor Ezekiel. The court conviction also required that the children were seen by a doctor once a year and a nurse four times a year. Perhaps their next child will not suffer the same fate as Ezekiel.

Today there was a 2 to 1 decision given against our appeal being accepted regardless of the errors in law from the original trial judge. Mainly in how the trial judge poorly instructed the jury prior to deliberation that left the jury in a place that according to 1 of the 3 appeal judges, “the jury had no choice but to find us guilty”. Perhaps this finally explains why 6 out of the 12 jury members were crying when they had to give the verdict? Perhaps they felt compelled to find us guilty just as many parents who attended court said that they themselves would also have been found guilty for endangering the lives of their children based on how the judge omitted the 4th necessary element in his charge to the jury.

If David thinks it is so important to highlight the dissenting opinion, why not highlight the majority opinion, which is much more robust. It is very likely due to confirmation bias as he seems to grasp at whatever straws he can find. It is also the height of arrogance to even suggest that half of the jurors cried because “they had no choice but to find us guilty”. In reality, they probably cried because David and Collet indirectly kill their son Ezekiel by refusing to take him to the doctor after he developed meningitis.

David also attempts to dilute responsibility by comparing his own horrific actions with “many parents”. But “many parents” have not refused to get medical attention for their dying child. It is horribly vulgar case of false equivalence.

With all of the glaring issues in our case
-withheld and falsified evidence to manipulate the “official narrative” and criminalize heartbroken parents,
-an elaborate cover up of the ill equipped ambulance and our son going for over 8 minutes without any oxygen therein,
-a 17 page letter to the Medical Examiner from the Solicitor Generals office prior to autopsy that profiles me as a political dissident and has no relevance to the medical examiner, other than for the likely influencing of the outcome of the autopsy report,
-excessive drama and censorship that was allowed to take place in the courtroom etc… […]

What evidence was withheld? What evidence was falsified? No clear evidence is presented for any of this. In fact, the appeal judges concluded in the majority opinion that the judge in the lower court had acted as a reasonable guardian to block unscientific testimony.

David continues to blame everything but himself and Collet. He claims that the “real” reason that Ezekiel died was somehow because an ambulance did not have a certain piece of equipment. He completely fails to address the giant elephant in the room: Ezekiel would never had died if he had not withheld medical treatment and let him suffer for two weeks with meningitis before he died. Why does David even think Ezekiel needed oxygen? Why he was so stiff that he could not even sit up straight?

What letter is this? David provides no evidence of such a letter or that he has correctly characterized the content of such a letter. What evidence does he have that it influenced the outcome of the autopsy. David also refer to a propaganda website that systematically distort reality in the favor of David and Collet, including denying that Ezekiel even had meningitis. It is not a legitimate source and the claims on that website is not based on medical evidence.

I have come to the realize that within the current system there is no room for justice and truth, there is no humanity and there definitely is no love.

There is no love for parents who indirectly killed their child by clinging to their pseudoscientific alternative medicine fakery. Why should there be? Dismissing the appeal means that justice and truth prevailed. Getting acquitted for their heinous acts would be the very opposite of justice and truth.

During the court case it was well recognized that we were extremely loving and attentive parents to Ezekiel. As such, upon the jury coming out with the guilty verdict, one of the crown prosecutors made the statement that “sometimes love just isn’t enough”.

Love is often expressed through action. Refusing to seek medical attention for a deadly sick toddler is the opposite of love. It is an ideological distortion. The prosecutors were right. Just abstract love is not enough. You had to feed a child, take care of him and get him medical attention when he is very sick. That is love in practice.

With all of the corruption, deception, murdering, and greed that I see plaguing humanity and finding its way into the highest levels of government, I argue that it isn’t that “love just isn’t enough” but rather that there just isn’t enough love. What meaning has life without love. How great would the transformation of humanity be if Love became our greatest motivating factor that guided us through our day to day decisions. Love alone would entirely resolve the plagues of humanity.

…and yet David and Collet refused to seek medical attention for their child when he was severely sick. No amount of superficial talk about love, deceptive distractions or distortions can change that fact.

I have been strongly cautioned to keep quiet as these types of posts could influence the outcome of court decisions, bail hearings etc…

By all means, David should feel free to continue talking and spreading his nonsense rantings on social media and negatively influence the outcome of court decisions and various hearings.

But this world needs more people that are willing to take a stand for truth… regardless of the cost.

This world needs more people who are willing to take a stand for facts and counter misleading and deceptive alternative medicine propaganda narratives like the one that David Stephan is pushing. The world needs more people who are willing to stand up for the rights of children to basic health care and their right to avoid being severely harmed or killed by their parents quackery.

People like Justice O’Ferrall who was willing to go against the grain and judge righteously, in light of whatever political pressure that he was up against. As such, I offer my sincere apologies for remaining quiet over the past year as I valued my false sense of security more than the need to openly speak the truth by exposing the corruption. I have come to see that if I remain quiet today, someone else will needlessly suffer tomorrow. Allowing the light of truth to shine brightly is the only thing that will keep the workers of darkness hiding in the shadows.

This is a perfect example of the self-aggrandizing narcissism that David appears to be suffering from. The partial psychological explanation for this behavior is as obvious as it is tragic: admitting that he and Collet has the deciding factor in the death of their child Ezekiel would be too much of a toll on them and it is easier to just keep denying reality and propping it up with convoluted rationalizations and paranoid conspiracy theories to avoid being forced to accept the undeniable facts.

One last matter on truth… I have seen so many who have awoken to the truth who have been overcome with anger and hatred as their entire world is shaken as reality begins to set in. If I had but one thing of value that I could share it would be this… If you truly want to be a force for change, start with Love!
May God – the very author of Love – bless you all and may truth prevail!.

If only David could have shown his son Ezekiel some love by taking him to a doctor instead of letting him suffer for two weeks with meningitis.

This is not over yet

Although the appeal was a failure in almost all regards, it left out one distinct issue. The majority opinion for a dismissal was written by two of the judges (Jack Watson and Bruce McDonald), a minority opinion was written by the third dissenting judge Brian O’Ferrall. He concluded that David and Collet Stephan deserved a new trial.

This may, at first glance, appear inconsequential.

However, according to Canadian law, this grants them the ability to have the Supreme Court of Canada pick up their case. Usually, it is not guaranteed that a higher court will listen to an appeal, but the existence of this minority opinion means that the Supreme Court will have to entertain an appeal should the Stephans submit it. The appeal submitted by the prosecution to get a tougher sentence is also under way. Like an earlier CBC report from 2016 predicted, “[…] appeals in toddler meningitis death case could drag on for years”.

Despite this, it looks like a solid case, so justice for Ezekiel will probably prevail. This court case is also much more important than just one child, as it is one of earliest cases during the late 2010s that seriously go after parents who killed their children with quackery, or let them die due to failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Emil Karlsson

Debunker of pseudoscience.

One thought on “Conviction Upheld For Parents Who Let Their Toddler Die of Meningitis

  • December 5, 2017 at 13:06
    Permalink

    It is bad enough, what they have done. The denialism and a complete lack of remorse turns my stomach.

    …and thery are having another child?!!

    Reply

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