Couple charged in child's death give up custody of 6 kids

AP News
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Posted: Feb 15, 2017 3:49 PM

READING, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania couple charged in the pneumonia death of their 2-year-old daughter have agreed to give up custody of their six other children, their attorney said.

Attorney Bryan DePowell said after a hearing Wednesday in Berks County that Jonathan Foster, 34, and Grace Foster, 32, agreed to put their other children in the custody of the county Children and Youth Services agency, the Reading Eagle (http://bit.ly/2kKMhfP ) reported.

As a result, prosecutors withdrew a motion to add conditions to the couple's bail to try to ensure that they were getting proper medical care for the other children, he said. The dependency hearing wasn't open to the public.

The Upper Tulpehocken Township residents face involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment charges in the Nov. 8 death of their daughter, Ella Grace Foster. Authorities said in a court affidavit that they told police that their faith as part of Faith Tabernacle church in Mechanicsburg bars any kind of medical treatment, and they attributed the child's death to "God's will."

The Fosters told authorities that Ella began showing symptoms of a common cold two days before she died, including lethargy and a sore throat. Her breathing eventually became labored, then rapid, and she died in her father's arms. A forensic pathologist told investigators Ella would have had a 95 percent chance of surviving if she had been given a routine course of antibiotics.

In Pennsylvania, at least 10 children whose parents belong to various branches the fundamentalist sect have died of treatable illnesses in the last several decades. Several church members have been prosecuted for failing to seek medical care.

District Attorney John Adams said Pennsylvania case law does not recognize a religious exception to a parents' duty to provide appropriate medical care.

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Information from: Reading Eagle, http://www.readingeagle.com/