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Felony charges dismissed in Crank case • Saturday December 21, 2002

Misdemeanor neglect charge stands
Knoxville News-Sentinel, Dec. 20, 2002
By News-Sentinel staff

A Loudon County judge has dismissed felony child abuse and neglect charges against a woman accused of failing to seek medical treatment for her cancer-stricken daughter – who later died.

Sessions Court Judge William Russell also dismissed the same charges against Ariel Ben Sherman, who was described as the dying girl’s “spiritual father.”

The girl, 15-year-old Jessica Crank, died in September at the home she shared with her mother, Jacqueline P. Crank, her younger brother, Sherman and members of the small religious group Sherman leads.

Russell made his ruling after defense attorneys Gregory P. Isaacs, who represents Crank, and Donald P. Bosch, who represents Sherman, basically dismantled the state’s cases against their clients.

Things became so lopsided that at one point in the hearing Assistant District Attorney Phil Smith actually agreed with Isaacs’ argument that the state hadn’t demonstrated the necessary probable cause to send the felony counts to a grand jury.

“I have to agree with your honor, there’s not anything (testimony) to show serious bodily injury,” Smith said.

Russell did send a misdemeanor neglect charge against Crank to the grand jury, though he indicated the state “barely” presented enough proof to get that.

A misdemeanor conviction carries a sentence of less than a year.

Crank 41, and later the 68-year-old Sherman, were charged after she took her daughter to a walk-in clinic in Lenoir City. A nurse practitioner there told her that Jessica had a serious medical problem and arranged for a physician at the University of Tennessee Medical Center to see her.

Crank, however, never took her daughter to the hospital, opting instead to treat her with prayer.

When Lenoir City Police officers finally tracked down the girl six weeks later the growth on her shoulder reportedly was the size of a basketball.

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