Strict belief-based diet contributed to Calgary infant's death, parents face charges
Published Saturday, December 13, 2014 10:39AM MST Last Updated Saturday, December 13, 2014 6:40PM MST
Following an investigation into the death of a 14 month old boy in November of 2013, Calgary police have charged the child’s biological parents.
On the afternoon of November 28, 2013, the child, John Clark, was admitted to the Foothills Hospital in Calgary after his parents sought medical attention at the insistance of a family member.
John was transported to the Alberta Children's Hospital for additional medical treatment but passed away in hospital the following day.
An autopsy and additional tests confirmed the child’s death was the result of a Staph infection complicated by malnutrition.
According to police, the parents, Jeromie and Jennifer, attempted to conceal the infant's failing health.
"We believe that the family followed a strict dietary regiment based on their beliefs," said CPS S/Sgt. Doug Andrus. The Clarks are strict vegans and Seventh Day Adventists.
S/Sgt. Andrus adds the majority of staph infection are easily treated with antibiotics.
On Friday, December 12, 2014, police arrested John Clark’s biological parents. Two older children were removed from the Clark home in north Calgary early in the investigation into the infant's death. Police say the children remain in a safe place.
38-year-old Jennifer Clark and 34-year-old Jeromie Clark, of Calgary, have been charged with:
- Criminal negligence causing death
- Failure to provide the necessaries of life
According to CPS S/Sgt. Doug Andrus, the child was not born in a hospital and received no medical attention from professionals during his brief life.
Pastor Randy Barber says the extended Clark family has worshipped at the Central Seventh Day Adventist Church in northwest Calgary for years, but Jeromie Clark and his wife stopped attending services without explanation.
"He became very radical, very controlling with his wife," recollects Pastor Barber. "They disappeared and we haven't seen them for about eight years."
This past fall, Pastor Barber says Jeromie and Jennifer, a school teacher, attended a single service. The pastor remembers Jeromie Clark seemed very serious.
"He's quite thin and always has a very stern look on his face," said Pastor Barber. "I've never seen him smile."
Jennifer and Jeromie Clark will appear in court on Monday, December 15.