Testimony of ill girl called vital
The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Aug. 31, 2002
By Randy Kenner, News-Sentinel staff writer
Defense lawyers in a Loudon County case involving a dying girl, her mother and the leader of the religious group they belong to have appealed a judge’s order prohibiting them from taking the child’s deposition.
Donald A. Bosch and Gregory P. Isaacs filed their appeal of Sessions Judge William Russell’s opinion on Friday.
Isaacs represents the 15-year-old girl’s mother, Jacqueline P. Crank, while Bosch represents Ariel Ben Sherman, who leads a small religious group in Loudon County. He was described as the girl’s “spiritual father” this week in court.
Both are charged with aggravated child abuse for not seeking medical treatment for the terminally ill girl.
The lawyers argued during a hearing earlier this week that they cannot mount an effective defense for their clients without deposing the girl, who probably will not be available to testify when the case comes to trial.
According to testimony at the hearing, the girl wants to help her mother.
Bosch told Russell during the hearing that he and Isaacs would submit to any conditions necessary to make the deposition as easy as possible for the girl at any time.
“We will go morning, noon or night to do this,” Bosch told Russell.
But Gary Fox, an assistant Loudon County district attorney, countered that the girl, who is on a large amount of pain medication, is no longer able to offer competent, lucid testimony. He also contends that her testimony isn’t relevant anyway.
“The adults are obligated to provide medical care to the child,” he argued during the hearing.
Isaacs, however, has already indicated he will base his defense in part on a state law that prohibits charging parents who use prayer in lieu of medical treatment to treat a seriously ill child.
Russell ultimately agreed with Fox’s ruling Wednesday that it would be a “great injustice” to subject the girl to a deposition and might even shorten her life.
The one-page notice of appeal will send the matter before Loudon County Circuit Judge E. Eugene Eblen. No hearing had been set on the appeal Friday.