An Oregon couple who belong to a church that preaches that seeking medical treatment is sinful have been charged in the death of their 12-year-old daughter.
Syble Rossiter had lost a great deal of weight in the month before her death and her condition had deteriorated so much that her concerned teacher even confronted her mother about the child’s health. The family, however, decided not to seek help for the girl, who had diabetes, because their church does not condone medical care. Syble ultimately died from complications from her illness.
Church of the First Born, the fundamentalist sect the Rossiters are a part of, believes that its followers, including young children, should rely only on God for healing. It has also been linked to over 80 child deaths as a result of a lack of medical care.
Wenona Rossiter, Syble’s mom, grew up in the church and watched her 7-year-old brother, who had leukemia, die without life-savings treatment when she was a child.
That case resulted in both her parents going on trial, the first prosecution of its kind in Oregon. Her dad was convicted and served 5 years probation for her brother’s death. Her mom was aquitted.
Despite this, when Wenona had her own children, she held firm to her church’s convictions and decided to forgo medical treatment for her little girl.
“They knew she was in great peril,” Prosecutor Keith Stein said of Syble’s parents. “They didn’t seek out medical care, and the reason they didn’t do it was their religious beliefs.”
Currently on trial, Syble’s parents have asked the court to exclude any mention of their faith during the trial proceedings, believing that it would be prejudicial to the jury.
“My client is requesting he be tried for the actions of that day [the day Syble died], not for his religious beliefs,” Tim Felling, Travis Rossiter’s attorney said in a motion to the court.
The court has not yet ruled if their faith can be considered a factor in the manslaughter case against the parents of Syble Rossiter who died last year.
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