Prayer or doctor: Appellate courts to hear Crank case

Loudon, USA - The debate over a parent’s right to turn to prayer for an ailing child is headed for the state’s appellate courts.

Loudon County Criminal Court Judge Eugene Eblen today declined to dismiss child neglect charges against Jacqueline Crank and her minister Ariel Sherman but is allowing attorneys Gregory P. Isaacs and Donald A. Bosch to file an emergency appeal to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Everyone in the case, including Assistant District Attorney General Frank Harvey, seemed to agree today that whether Crank and Sherman can be prosecuted for failing to get medical treatment for 15-year-old Jessica Crank is at this point more of a legal argument than a jury question.

There is a state law that allows faith healing, but it is silent on when or even if a parent must at some point abandon prayer in favor of medicine.

Jacqueline Crank and Sherman wound up charged in 2002 after authorities discovered that Jessica Crank had a rare form of bone cancer for which she was not receiving medical treatment.

She died from the disease later that year.

Jacqueline Crank testified at a hearing this morning that she believed God could heal her daughter if He so chose.

“I decided to turn to Jesus Christ, My Lord and Savior, for her healing,” Crank said.

Jacqueline Crank carried with her to the witness stand a Bible and turned aside Harvey’s suggestion that the Universal Life Church, of which she is a member, is a cult headed up by Sherman, who is often included in college text books as an example of a cult leader.

“I am a devout Christian,” Crank responded.

“It’s no different than any other denomination. We believe in the word of God.”

Sherman has repeatedly denied that he is a cult leader.

Jacqueline Crank said she continues to live with Sherman, her son and four other church members in South Carolina.

Sherman often lives in a communal setting with his parisionhers.

More details as they develop online and in Tuesday’s News Sentinel.