Judge slams parents who treated dying son with maple syrup -- but gives them lenient sentences
David and Collet Stephan (Facebook)

A judge rebuked a couple as he sentenced them for failing to properly care for their son after he became ill with bacterial meningitis and died.


Justice Rodney Jerke sentenced 33-year-old David Stephan to four months in jail, and the Alberta judge sentenced 36-year-old Collet Stephan to three months of house arrest, reported CBC.

The couple was convicted in April of failing to provide the necessaries of life to their son, 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died from meningitis in March 2012.

The Stephans did not seek medical care until the toddler stopped breathing, but the boy never regained consciousness and was taken off life support five days after he was hospitalized.

They instead tried to treat the dying child with natural remedies such as maple syrup, hot peppers, garlic and horseradish.

The judge decided the offense was too serious to suspend the Stephans' sentence, but he gave them less than the four and a half years sought by prosecutors.

Jerke ordered the couple to take their three surviving children to a doctor at least once a year, and he ordered Collet Stephan to post his complete sentencing decision on the "Prayers for Ezekiel" Facebook page.

The judge told the couple he believed they loved their son and felt deeply sorry that he had died, but he harshly criticized them -- particularly David Stephan -- for failing to accept responsibility for their actions.

"Mr. Stephan's post-conviction actions demonstrate a complete lack of remorse," the judge said. "To this day he refuses to admit his actions had any impact."

David Stephan has said in interviews and on Facebook that the Canadian government was targeting him and his wife for their anti-vaccine beliefs, and he has blamed emergency medical crews for his son's death.

He told supporters gathered at the Lethbridge courthouse before the sentencing that "misinformation" had turned the public against his family.

David Stephan, who operates Truehope Nutritional Support Inc., was taken into custody at the sentencing hearing.

The judge said Collet Stephan was "willfully blind" to the dangers her actions posed to her dying son, but he credited her for at least researching the boy's symptoms and calling a nurse for advice.

"My children are everything to me and I'm everything to my children," Collet Stephan said during sentencing. "I am incredibly sorry I did not take him to the hospital. I just loved him so much."

Jerke said David Stephan, on the other hand, gave his son more nutritional supplements and called his father, a property manager who developed the controversial Empowerplus supplement sold by Truehope.

The couple must serve two years on probation after their sentences end ad perform 20 hours of community service.

Watch this video report posted online by CTVNews: