Faith-healer Ariel Ben Sherman sought medical care while recommending against same for teen

He was the "spiritual father" of a 15-year-old girl, terminally ill with cancer, who had convinced the girl's mother to rely on faith instead of medicine to try to heal her.

But when it came to his own cancer and pneumonia, Ariel Ben Sherman was treated in a hospital in South Carolina, records show.

"It's sad and ironic," Loudon County Deputy District Attorney General Frank Harvey said.

Harvey said Sherman and Jacqueline Crank, the mother of Jessica Crank, rejected medical treatment for the girl's rare cancer and turned to prayer instead. Jessica died in September 2002.

Sherman's death certificate showed he died at age 78 on Nov. 28 in a South Carolina hospital of respiratory arrest while being treated for small-cell cancer.

"He (Sherman) lived by a different standard," Harvey said.

Sherman's death ends one part of a convoluted legal case that has wound its way through the judicial system.

Because Sherman has died, his attorney, Donald A. Bosch, has filed a motion to dismiss an appeal pending before the state Court of Criminal Appeals.

The appeal concerned whether Sherman, as Jessica Crank's purported "spiritual father," owed her a legal duty of care.

Sherman and Jacqueline Crank were found guilty in May 2012 in Loudon County Criminal Court of misdemeanor neglect for the child's death and were placed on probation. They had first been charged with felony child neglect.

Other aspects of the high-profile case remain unresolved, including a major constitutional question.

The appellate court has to decide whether the state's spiritual exemption law that permits parents to forego medical treatment in favor of faith healing is in violation of the U.S. Constitution and its equal protection guarantees.

 

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