CALGARY—Calgary police say charges have been laid against the parents of a child whose death was related to malnutrition.
Police say John Clark, who was 14 months old, died a day after being taken to a Calgary hospital by his parents in November 2013.
Staff Sgt. Doug Andrus told a news conference on Saturday that the child’s family followed strict dietary restrictions based on their faith and nutritional beliefs.
Andrus said the child was suffering from a staph infection that was complicated by malnutrition, and as a result the infection was untreatable.
“There’s nothing to indicate the child had seen a doctor since birth,” Andrus said. “The child was not born in a hospital.”
Police say the boy’s parents were arrested on Friday after what they call a long and complex investigation.
Jennifer Clark, 38, and Jeromie Clark, 34, of Calgary, have both been charged with criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessities of life.
They have a court appearance scheduled for Monday to face the allegations.
Andrus wouldn’t go into details when asked for specifics about the family’s faith or dietary restrictions, noting he hoped the information would come out in the court process. He said the home appeared normal.
“We believe that the biological parents took steps to conceal the condition of the infant from the family members. And it was only on the advice of family members that the infant was taken to the hospital,” Andrus said.
Andrus said police began investigating as soon as the boy was brought to the hospital. He explained the investigation involved four different experts in the fields of pediatrics, infectious diseases, neurology, and dermatology.
He said that normally, the staph infection that the boy suffered from can be treated with antibiotics, if treated early.
“In spite of any beliefs, parents and guardians are required to provide the necessaries of life. That includes care, medical attention, food and shelter. And if not, the consequences can be severe and parents and guardians can be held accountable for their actions,” Andrus said.
“Fortunately these types of deaths and investigations are rare.”
Investigators say an autopsy and other tests determined that John Clark’s death was related to malnutrition.