Jan 11, 2017

Convicted for using natural remedies to treat dying son, father back promoting alternative medicine

National post
Graeme Hamilton
January 11, 2017

Less than a year after being convicted of endangering his severely ill son by relying on natural remedies, David Stephan was on the road this week promoting the merits of alternative medicine.

The Alberta father found guilty with this wife of “failing to provide the necessaries of life” to their 18-month-old son Ezekiel appeared Tuesday at an alternative health store in Prince George, B.C., to promote a nutritional supplement claimed to treat mental illness.

“Come listen to David Stephan talk about how his family members suffered from mental illness and were made well,” read a flyer promoting the appearance at Ave Maria Specialties. The store calls itself the largest health food store in northern British Columbia and promises “healthy products for mind, body and soul.”

Ave Maria drew criticism on its Facebook page for inviting Stephan to speak. One commenter noted that Stephan has shown no remorse since being convicted of contributing to Ezekiel’s 2012 death from meningitis.

“Why are you giving him a platform to speak?” she asked.

Ave Maria owner Dave Fuller declined comment Wednesday, but an employee confirmed Stephan’s appearance had taken place. Fuller told the Prince George Citizen that Stephan had spoken at the store before his conviction, and customers asked that he be invited back.

“To be honest with you, I had some reservations because I know the case is still on people’s minds, and it’s quite a controversial case,” Fuller told the newspaper, referring to the critics as “haters.” But he said the product Stephan was promoting — a supplement produced by his family’s company Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd. that claims to treat depression, anxiety, stress and bipolar disorder — was unrelated to the treatments administered to Ezekiel.

“We’re trying to provide products that really make a difference in people’s lives, and this is one of them,” Fuller said.

A jury heard last spring that Stephan and his wife Collet failed to seek medical treatment when Ezekiel developed a fever and difficulty breathing on Feb. 27, 2012. They relied instead on natural products including vinegar, onion powder, ginger, garlic and hot peppers.

Even after a friend who was a nurse raised the possibility of meningitis on March 12, they administered naturopathic treatments called Total Reload and Blast. They only called 911 when he stopped breathing on March 13.

After a jury found the couple guilty last April 26, Justice Rodney Jerke of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta sentenced Collet Stephan to three months of house arrest and David Stephan to four months in jail. Jerke wrote that their failure to seek medical treatment “contributed significantly” to the risk to Ezekiel’s life.

Among the reasons for giving David Stephan a harsher sentence was the fact that since the verdict he had shown a “complete lack of remorse for his own inaction and an entrenchment of his refusal to seek medical attention when it becomes necessary for those in his care,” the judge wrote.

On Facebook, he has described himself as the victim of a cover-up, accusing the Crown of “trickery” and arguing that Ezekiel’s death was the result of inadequate treatment from the ambulance crew.

Stephan did not respond to a message left at the Truehope offices.

The Crown is appealing the parents’ sentences as insufficient, and the Stephans are appealing the guilty verdicts. They are free on bail pending the appeal. A hearing in the Alberta Court of Appeal is set for March 9.


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