Mother Charged With Child Abuse After Choosing Prayer Over Medical Care

WKRN, Sep. 18, 2002

An East Tennessee woman is charged with child abuse for allegedly choosing prayer over medical care to treat her daughter’s cancer. The mother could soon be facing a homicide charge as well.

15-year-old Jessica Crank died of cancer last Sunday. Her mother now faces the possibility of years in prison because of a decision she made about her daughter’s health.

“They tried to cure her through prayer, relying on their faith as practicing Christians,” said Gregory Isaacs, the mother’s attorney.

“They” are Jessica’s mother, Jacqueline, and her church, a fundamentalist church called the New Life Tabernacle, run by a man also charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect. Lenoir City Police made the arrests before Jessica died.

“She got medical care only after the children were removed from her custody,” said Lenoir City Police Chief Jack Fine.

Jessica and a younger brother were put in the care of the state Department of Children’s Services seven weeks after their mother refused a doctor’s advice to take Jessica to a hospital. As it turned out, Jessica had Ewing’s Sarcoma and a 17 pound tumor on her shoulder.

Jacqueline crank is out on bond, as is the church’s leader, Ariel ben Sherman. They remain together with other congregates in the church building in rural Loudon county. The minister’s lawyer said his client shouldn’t have been arrested.

“Whether he influenced her or not is not a question. Whether an individual tells someone they should believe something is not a crime,” said attorney Don Bosch.

The mother’s lawyer said his client shouldn’t have been arrested either.

“She has relied on her rights as a parent and a citizen and exercised her rights of Source

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