Ill teen at center of legal dispute buried in Loudon

Knoxville News-Sentinel, Sep. 18, 2002
By Jamie Satterfield, News-Sentinel staff writer

LOUDON — A Loudon County teenager whose mother is accused of failing to get the girl medical treatment and instead relying on prayer to heal her was buried today after a brief funeral service.

Jessica Lynn Crank, 15, died early Sunday morning from a rare form of bone cancer. She was diagnosed with the disease in late June after her mother, Jacqueline P. Crank, 41, was charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.

Jacqueline Crank is accused of ignoring advice from medical personnel at a Lenoir City walk-in clinic to take her daughter to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville to try to find out why the girl had a basketball-sized growth on her shoulder.

Her attorney, Gregory P. Isaacs, has said Crank, a devout member of a small home-based religious group, opted to turn to prayer instead. He contends state law specifically exempts parents exercising religious freedom in medical decisions from being charged under the child abuse statutes.

Ariel Ben Sherman, the leader of the New Life Ministries religious group of which Crank and her daughter were members, said during Jessica’s funeral today that the teenaged girl believed in faith healing. The girl was buried at Loudon County Memorial Gardens.

Sherman also is charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect in the case. Isaacs has said he expects the child abuse charges against both Crank and Sherman to be upgraded to murder now that the girl has died.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday September 20, 2002.
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