Strict religious diet cause of Calgary infant’s death, parents charged
WATCH: Jennifer Clark, 38, and Jeromie Clark, 34, were charged with criminal negligence for failing to provide necessities of life for their infant son, who died last year.
Calgary – Police have charged the parents of an infant who died over a year ago.
14-month-old John Clark was brought to a local hospital by his parents on Nov. 28, 2013. He died the following day.
An autopsy found the child was suffering from a staph infection that was complicated by malnutrition and as a result, the infection was untreatable.
Police add the majority of staph infections are treatable by antibiotics, if caught early.
Jennifer Clark, 38, and Jeromie Clark, 34, were arrested on Friday and charged with criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessities of life.
“We believe the family followed a strict dietary regimen based on their faith and nutritional beliefs,” said S/Sgt. Doug Andrus.
Police say the investigation was a long and complicated process, which is why it took time to get the results.
“We have no indication that he (the infant) had seen a doctor since his birth and the child was not born in hospital,” said S/Sgt. Andrus. “And the family took steps to conceal his condition from family members. And it was only after the realization by a family member that the infant was sick [that] they were advised to take him to hospital.”
Police would not discuss the condition the child was in once he was brought to hospital.
Under the Criminal Code, the parents or guardians of a child are legally required to provide the basic necessities of life including food, shelter, care and medical attention.
The parents charged also have two older children and they were removed from the family during the early stages of the investigation. Police say they are in a safe place.
“In spite of any beliefs, parents and guardians are required to provide the necessities of life,” said S/Sgt. Andrus.
“When we have a death of an infant, it tends to strike a chord with everyone.”
It’s believed the couple was radicalized members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church which advocates a vegetarian diet.
Police say the family followed a strict dietary regimen based on their faith and nutritional beliefs.
But in this case, police say the accused went far beyond.
Their pastor Randy Barber says they were seldom seen in recent years and he had no idea they had children.
“We probably have 200 kids in this church and they’re all healthy and happy and never do we tell our members what they need to eat or feed their children. That never happens,” Pastor Barber said.
He suggests Jeromie and Jennifer had radicalized away from the teachings of the church.
The couple is due to appear in court on Monday.