In McKinney, Texas a jury recently deadlocked in a case involving a woman who severed her 10 month old daughter’s arms and left her to bleed to death, while she went to go listen to a hymn. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11568174/
The obvious plea from the woman was insanity. Here is a short synopsis of her behavior.
Dr. William Reid had testified that people close to Schlosser had missed obvious signs of severe mental illness.
Schlosser’s husband, John Schlosser, said he wasn’t alarmed when his wife said after church the day before the killing that she wanted to “give the baby to God.” He said she appeared normal after he calmed her down, and he thought her mental condition had improved over the previous few months.
The summer before Maggie died, Schlosser abandoned Maggie and her other two children by running away from the family’s apartment. She was found two miles away by Plano police and released from a hospital less than 24 hours later.
The Schlosser family went several times a week to the Water of Life Church. The pastor, Doyle Davidson, testified that he believes mental illness is possession by demons and only God can cure it.
Dena Schlosser, who was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after Maggie’s birth, didn’t take medication or see a doctor in the four months before the killing.
After her arrest, Dena Schlosser was diagnosed with manic depression and declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.
The part that got my ire up was the pastor testifying that he believed mental illness was caused by possession and that only God could cure it. It is unclear whether the family was going to church services or whether the family was seeing the pastor for counseling. If the pastor was seeing the family for counseling, I believe the father of the little girl should seek additional justice by filing a wrongful death claim based on clergy malpractice.
If the pastor held himself out to be a counselor that could address concerns of mental illness, then he should be held to the standard of care that a reasonable counselor would be held to, his religious beliefs notwithstanding. Under such a standard, I believe it likely that his failure to refer, recommend, consult or otherwise involve qualified medical personnel in the treatment of this woman would violate the standard of a reasonable counselor. In addition, his failure to refer the mother, could serve as a breach of ficuciary duty not to the mother or the father, whose beliefs may or may not have been in conformity with the pastor, but to the little girl that lost her life as a result of the negligence, again assuming the family was involved in counseling.
There are many grounds for the pastor to defend on, and a First Amendment defense stands a reasonable chance of being successful in preventing the suit from even going to trial. Nonetheless, socking it to the congregations by forcing them to fork over the costs of defending expensive lawsuits does teach a lesson. Don’t get quacks that think that all illness is caused by the devil or you won’t get to build a community center.