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Sun Salutations, dear readers, and welcome to the Snake Oil Bulletin! This week we have breaking news about the trial of Collet and David Stephans, the Albertan naturopathic couple whose son Ezekiel died of meningitis. We give fair warning to all readers that this story is not for the faint of heart or those prone to blind blistering rage at the concept of child abuse, which should be all of humanity. Let's get started, shall we?


Ezekiel Stephan's parents found guilty

In what we hope is the final chapter of the ongoing AWFULNESS that is the Alberta child neglect story, reports across the internet are flooding in that Collet and David Stephan, parents of Ezekiel Stephan, have been found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life.

We've been covering the Stephans for a few weeks now, so quick recap of the gut-wrenching monstrosity that is this case: In 2012, 19-month old Ezekiel had been sick with meningitis, a disease that causes severe swelling of the brain and spinal cord, for over two and a half weeks. His parents refused to take him to a doctor, claiming they they didn't believe in modern medicine, and instead "treated" him with "natural remedies" like peppers, onions, and echinacea. By the end of those two weeks, Ezekiel's body was so swollen that he couldn't bend to sit down in his car seat, probably because chili peppers don't cure meningitis. EVERYONE told his parents to take him to a real doctor -- their nurse friend, their naturopath, even the fucking bullshit snake oil swindling "naturopathic pharmacist" told them to take their dying child to a damn doctor. The Stephans did none of that.

By the time the toddler was in the physical presence of anyone with any medical experience, he hadn't moved from his bed for weeks, had to be fed fluids by an eyedropper, and could only communicate in whimpers. His parents only called an ambulance after he STOPPED BREATHING. Ezekiel was rushed to a hospital and helicoptered to a second hospital in Calgary. According to his parents' sworn testimony, this was the first time Ezekiel had been in the presence of a medical doctor IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE. Two days later, Ezekiel was declared brain dead and placed on life support. His parents made the decision to terminate three days later.

In case you cannot tell, every SYLLABLE of that above description made Yr Volpe's blood pressure spike to absolute maximum.

Witness after witness testified to the Stephans' neglect of their son, and it took a jury almost no time to return with a verdict of guilty in "failing to provide the necessaries of life" (Yes, "necessaries" looks weird, but that's Canadadian legal talk for you), or, put another way:

Crown prosecutor Lisa Weich said the charge of failing to provide the necessaries of life ensures that people who cannot care for themselves receive the minimal standard of care expected by society.

“They definitely, definitely loved their son[,] but as stated in our closing arguments, unfortunately sometimes love just isn’t enough,” Weich said outside court. “Parents still have to follow a standard of care as set by criminal law.”

What a Canadian way of saying "You can't kill yer babby just cuz you wanna play doctor."

From testimony it is very clear how the Stephans' actions were ideologically driven. The admission that Ezekiel had never seen a doctor in his life was damning, as was David Stephan's insistence that, although he had no medical qualifications, he was still "educated" about disease: "Do we have a formal education? No. Are we educated in it? Absolutely." This "education," by Collet's testimony, came exclusively from reading woo blogs and WebMD. Even after she realized that Ezekiel had meningitis, her response was to follow a program of phoney "immune boosting" and "homeopathics," even though by that point Ezekiel had to be laid out flat on his mattress in the back of the family truck. This is the kind of care that David Stephan referred to as "above and beyond...exceptional care."

We're not buying any of this bullshit, and thankfully neither did the jury. The Stephans face a maximum of five years in prison for the charge, though we're frankly amazed they'll remain free until their upcoming sentencing on June 13th. They can go about their lives until that day, potentially endangering more of their children with their garbage medical views.

If you thought this trial had taught the Stephans any kind of lesson about their ideological ignorance, hoo brother, you do not know people. David Stephan, paragon of legal and medical self-education, took to Facebook immediately after the verdict came down. In a rambling screed he attacked the jury and the Canadian prosecutors for violating the Stephan's sacred duty to murder their own children. This screed leads us to our second story on the bulletin today:

David Stephan pretty goddamn condescending for a baby killer

We at Yr Wonkette do not like to editorialize (lie), but David Stephan sounds like an insufferable ass. Besides his belief that he is educated because he reads blogs and his entire family sells garbage "brain boosting" supplements to treat bipolar disorder, anxiety, and autism, David believes that his jury was a bunch of brainwashed morons.

We've noted that the Stephans' social media presence has been pretty shameless. Before it was shut down, they had a GoFundMe to pay for their legal expenses, and David had a well-established presence on his personal Facebook page and through his "Prayers for Ezekiel" page. The day after the verdict, David took out his frustrations in a condescending Facebook message:

There's a very real possibility that David may delete this Facebook message before his upcoming sentencing. Screenshots are such a valuable tool.

If "parenting as seen fit by the government" means "a basic requirement that you try to stop your kid from dying," then we at Yr Wonkette are quite fine with government-mandated kiddy care.

The Stephans have claimed since the start of their trial that the ambulance which first reached Ezekiel lacked the proper medical equipment to revive a comatose toddler, and THAT was the reason for his death. Even IF the ambulance lacked the proper medical equipment for a toddler, and EMTs were able to do NOTHING to help Ezekiel as he lay stiff and unresponsive on his mattress, THAT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER. You know what does matter? The fact that his parents had let his illness get to that point before they called an EMT. An ambulance has as much medical equipment as they deem they will likely need in an emergency. Most sane, rational parents do not let their toddler get to the point of coma and brain death before seeing a single physician.

Even if that ambulance had come to the Stephans with a Fisher Price stethoscope and a half-broken copy of Operation, that would not have excused the Stephans' two and a half weeks of complete inaction.

Whether medical attention is sought or not and your child lives, it is of no consequence

No, David, whether or not medical attention is sought for a child is of supreme consequence. If you do the medical equivalent of nothing to treat a child who is completely within your care, you are a child neglecting monster. Period. We do not exist in a medical vacuum like the Middle Ages. Medical care is a real thing in our modern world that, especially in Canada, is offered to every citizen at relatively little cost if any. There is no excuse for you to so callously deny your sick son even the basics of medical care.

Fortunately, it seems that David's li'l baby rant could land him in hot water with the Crown. Shockingly, publically accusing the entire justice system of lying is not a great strategy for a lenient sentence.

Peter Sankoff, who teaches in the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta, said the Facebook post goes beyond "just expressing dismay with the verdict" and could have some impact on the sentence the judge ultimately hands down.

"It's sort of impugning the repute of both the Crown and the system," Sankoff said of Stephan's letter to jurors.

"So it's definitely possible the Crown would try to tender it in sentencing and to suggest that it's an aggravating feature that should be considered."

Funny how people don't like being called liars, David.

We refrain from profanity as often as we can (pants on fire lie), but fucking fuck these fucking fuckers and every fucking thing they fucking believe right in their fucking fuckheads. Fuck.

[CBC / Calgary Herald / The Star / A Science Enthusiast / David Stephan on Facebook]

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