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Antivaxers lobbying Rep. Jason Chaffetz to investigate the CDC fawn over parents who let their child with bacterial meningitis die of medical neglect

Yesterday, I took note of a meeting of advocates and lawyers with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), which makes him a very powerful Congressman. The group that met with him included Del Bigtree, the producer of Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine propagandafest of a “documentary” VAXXED: From Cover-up to Catastrophe; Levi Quackenboss, the pseudonymous blogger best known recently for getting into a fight over vaccine evidence with a 12-year-old and losing badly, leading her to try to dox the child and look even worse as a result; anti-GMO activist Tami Canal, the founder of March Against Monsanto; and, apparently, some lawyers, no doubt lawyers interested in destroying the National Vaccine Injury Compensation System and the Vaccine Court, so that they can seek big paydays for “vaccine injury” from vaccine manufacturers. After the meeting, both Bigtree and Quackenboss were crowing all over their Facebook page and blog, respectively, about how they thought that Chaffetz would investigate the CDC based on the overheated conspiracy theory of the “CDC whistleblower,” explained in more detail in my last post. Given that Chaffetz hails from Utah, the epicenter of the supplement industry in the US, and is in the pocket of the supplement industry to the point that he was co-chair of the Dietary Supplement Caucus (yes, it exists), I thought I had reason to be concerned that he might be susceptible to the blandishments of antivaccine cranks, coupled with a lovely conspiracy theory that would allow him to investigate the CDC, given the history of the OGR with respect to antivaccine pseudoscience and other quackery. After all, it was just 2013 when antivaxers were lobbying Chaffetz’s predecessor, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on the same issues, sans CDC whistleblower conspiracy theory. And don’t get me started on the long history of quacks using this committee to harass the FDA over its “persecution” of cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski when Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) was chair back in the 1990s.

As if it weren’t bad enough that the OGR chair is giving what sounds like a congenial, sympathetic hearing to antivaccine activists, I have to wonder if Mr. Chaffetz knows just how despicable the people to whom he gave a hearing and on whose behalf he might be launching a Congressional investigation are. I really do. Andrew Wakefield, of course, needs little explanation. He’s the single most famous antivaccine activist alive today, or at least he’d be my first pick for that dubious “honor.” A now utterly disgraced and discredited physician and researcher, Wakefield rose to infamy when he published a small case series in 1998 that purported to show an association between the MMR vaccine and bowel problems in autistic children. It was the paper that launched a thousand antivaccine quacks and gave birth to the MMR scare that continues to this day, in the process causing MMR uptake in the UK to plummet and measles, previously controlled, to come roaring back. Ultimately, Wakefield was stripped of his medical license for research misconduct and saw his 1998 paper retracted. Now, he’s known for appearing on cruises for conspiracy theorists and making antivaccine propaganda films like VAXXED. Unfortunately, he’s also responsible, along with biochemical engineer turned antivaccine activist and incompetent epidemiologist, Brian Hooker, birthed the “CDC whistleblower” conspiracy theory.

These are the people with whom Del Bigtree has associated himself: A disgraced physician/scientist who no longer has a license to practice because of his research misconduct, an anti-GMO crank, and a pseudonymous antivaccine blogger so insecure about her position that she attacked a 12-year-old boy who challenged it, not to mention a bevy of lawyers seeking a big payday after tearing down the NVICP. That’s bad enough, but here’s whom else Bigtree associates with, the parents of a child named Ezekiel Stephan, who died of bacterial meningitis because they were too busy treating him with herbs and maple syrup to take him to a real doctor in time to save his life. As a result, Stephan’s parents were convicted of failing to provide the necessities of life and are due to be sentenced this week. Not surprisingly, these parents, David and Collet Stephan, are antivaccine as well, and have thus become martyrs in the eyes of the antivaccine movement.

So, after a showing of VAXXED in Calgary, Del Bigtree fawned all over them after the Q&A and posted it to Facebook:

Yes, as Reasonable Hank put it, the VAXXED documentary team is rallying behind actual child killers because they are antivaccine and can be portrayed as martyrs to the cause of “vaccine freedom” and “health freedom.” So, not only are the people Mr. Chaffetz met with rallying behind parents who were convicted of letting their child die through medical neglect, but, as Michael Platt put it, the Stephans show no remorse whatsoever. Before I go on, let me make this clear. I have no doubt that David and Collet Stephan suffered horribly when Ezekiel died. I have no doubt that they still mourn him, four years later. It is, however, four years later. Life goes on, and the grief becomes less intense. What I mean by “remorse” is not that they weren’t devastated by their loss. What I mean is that they have no remorse for their role in Ezekiel’s death. They view themselves, rather than Ezekiel, as the victim. It’s now all about them, rather than their child, and they view themselves as blameless.

In fact, they try very hard to blame the ambulance drivers who tried to save Ezekiel’s life:

“This isn’t the way the media has played it out to be. They’ve tried to distance us from the average person by trying to say that he was too stiff, stiff as a board, to get into his car seat, he had to be fed somehow through an eyedropper, he was being treated for meningitis with maple syrup and fruits and berries — that’s not the case at all,” says the negligent father, in an infuriating video now plastered on YouTube.

“We were treating our child with different homeopathic remedies, different herbal remedies like tens of thousands of people do. Nothing out of the ordinary and he wasn’t severely ill. Then everything just came to a crash on an evening, he ended up in an ambulance that didn’t have the right equipment and he subsequently ended up brain-dead.”

This is, to put it kindly, utter and complete bullshit. First of all, homeopathy is The One Quackery To Rule Them All, the most ridiculous of quackeries. If the Stephans were treating a seriously ill patient with homeopathy, then they were committing medical neglect, plain and simple. Also, the testimony of the coroner was very clear that Ezekiel had been in dire straights for quite some time before his death and that Ezekiel was dead before EMS intervened. Watching the video, I felt bile rising in the back of my throat and a burning rage start to consume me that took considerable effort to bring under control. As Platt notes:

All the dad lacks is a halo, to set off his mantle of martyrdom.

Given another chance, and it seems all the Stephans would do differently for a sick child that had stopped breathing is not call the ambulance, because it wasn’t equipped with the right equipment to provide oxygen to an 18-month-old.

It’s a halo that Del Bigtree tries his best to buff to the greatest shine possible. The only way Bigtree could have his lips more firmly attached to David Stephan’s posterior would be to insert his head in Stephan’s rectum, so much so that he enthusiastically lets himself be used to rally support for the Stephans in their sentencing hearing today and tomorrow:

On Thursday, the couple is back before a Lethbridge judge for a two-day sentencing hearing, and in the video, the Stephans ask that supporters flock to the court dressed in blue jeans and white shorts to bolster their cause.

“Ultimately it comes down to whether we have the right to vaccinate or not vaccinate without being held criminally liable,” says the dad.

“Or whether or not we have to rush our children to the doctor every time they even just get the sniffles, in fear that something may just randomly happen and then we’re held liable.”

So let me bet this straight. The Stephans didn’t vaccinate their child, who developed bacterial meningitis, which quite possibly could have started with an HiB infection, which is a vaccine-preventable disease. Of course, that’s not the worst of it. Even if they had vaccinated their child, they still neglected him medically. After all, they treated their child with homeopathy, maple syrup, and various herbal concoctions even though he was slowly getting worse and worse. Finally, their child Ezekiel stopped breathing, and only that was enough to get them to call an ambulance. When the paramedics couldn’t revive Ezekiel, they tried to blame them. Now they’re milking their notoriety for publicity, and Del Bigtree is helping them do it. As Platt sarcastically notes, regardless of whether they get probation or five years in prison, “it seems David and Collet Stephan have learned but one thing from their loss — and that’s how to use the publicity to their best advantage.”

One wonders if Chaffetz knew what he was getting into when he agreed to meet with Bigtree and his crew. I realize that Bigtree didn’t make his video of the Stephans until a couple of days after his meeting with Chaffetz, but there are plenty of other things that date back months that a competent Congressional staff should have identified. For instance, one wonders if Chaffetz was aware of how Hooker, Wakefield, and Bigtree have been courting of the Nation of Islam to spread the antivaccine message. One wonders how well that would go over among Chaffetz’s constituents.

In the end, Chaffetz is letting himself be used by Bigtree and antivaccinationists. I suspect he realizes that but see some sort of political advantage to be had. Perhaps he can use the incident to portray himself as fighting for “health freedom” and against overweening government. Who knows? I just hope he figures out what a mistake he’s making before he causes too much mischief. Unfortunately, I doubt that he will.

ADDENDUM: Surprise, surprise! Collet Stephan is pulling a fast one at the Stephans’ sentencing hearing by claiming that the autopsy report was falsified.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

180 replies on “Antivaxers lobbying Rep. Jason Chaffetz to investigate the CDC fawn over parents who let their child with bacterial meningitis die of medical neglect”

Unless ambulances come equipped with a TARDIS, there is nothing they could’ve brought that would’ve saved Ezekiel.

I just love how their supporters are blind to the part where death of their child caused Stephens seemingly no distress. All they talk about is how they are hounded for “doing the right thing”, how it is not their fault. But the fact that the child is dead seems to have no bearing on their attitude in any way, except being the reason for the heat put on them.

That’s how you know they’re the good guys. By seeing how they care more about media/law reaction to their son’s death, rather than the death itself. If that ain’t a sign of psychopathy I don’t know what is…

A few random thoughts:

A. This choice really is telling. Whether it’s from real sympathy with the parents and lack of emphasis on the child or as a way to latch onto a controversial issue to get more attention to Vaxxed just before the end of its theater run, it’s not to the creators’ and the Vaxxed Team’s credit.

B. I may be too easy on the parents, but I don’t think they didn’t care about the boy, and the court didn’t either – no remorse, not getting what they did wrong, doesn’t mean his death didn’t hurt. My impression is that they did feel it at the time, four years ago. But – not to their credit – they really don’t get what they did wrong. I guess it’s human nature not to want to acknowledge that they failed him to that degree, but it’s not to their credit.

C. Sentencing in the Stephans’ is today and tomorrow. I wonder what will happen.

That… that is actually a very fair point, Dorit. Let’s not forget that it happened over four years ago by now – that is a lot of time to deal with the grief and, seemingly, get over something like the death of your child.

It is not like it happened just the other week and they are acting the way they are.

Just in case I made it sound like “they cared then and don’t now: nor my intent.

I hope I never face losing a child, but from talking to those who have I understand that it never stops hurting. You never really get over. But after a few years most people, we hope, get to the point where they can function and act in spite of the grief. Doesn’t mean they don’t care about the loss.

I don’t know how things are here.

So let me bet this straight. The Stephans didn’t vaccinate their child, who developed bacterial meningitis, which quite possibly could have started with an HiB infection, which is a vaccine-preventable disease.

There was some debate on Jezabel’s and other articles as the minimal age for having the full HiB vaccination – the question was, would Ezekiel have had the full series before becoming infected. Although it should be done by 11 months, I believe, so a 18-month old child would have been protected.

Anyway, Ezekiel’s vaccination status is a red herring.

The fact remains that he was sick for two-and-half weeks, and by all accounts it was a bit more serious than the “sniffles”.
The fact remains that the parents ignored the advice of at least two people they trusted (a nurse friend, and the ND the mom visited to get echinacea), and who flatly told them it could be meningitis and a visit to a doctor may be warranted.
The fact remains that when he collapsed, he was dehydrated and malnourished. The dehydration was one of the reasons the ambulance crew couldn’t do much for him: his veins had collapsed and couldn’t be used for IV.

All of this has nothing to do with vaccination (aside as an example of crank magnetism). It’s child neglect, pure and simple.

To go back to Stephan:

he was being treated for meningitis with maple syrup and fruits and berries — that’s not the case at all,
[…]We were treating our child with different homeopathic remedies, different herbal remedies

How is treating you child with sugary water and vegetable concoctions “not the case at all”, you sad excuse for a human being?

like tens of thousands of people do.

As someone pointed in a different article, it this that true, then we should be seeing tens of thousands of children dying of meningitis.

I’ve finally managed to track down Ezekiel’s autopsy findings (courtesy of a posting on the Stephan’s own Facebook page).

I have an interest in this, as I am often asked to provide evidence on coronial autopsy findings from a microbiological perspective to help determine the cause of death.

This can be challenging, as micro-organisms often enter usually sterile sites (eg the meninges or the pleural spaces) after death due to the breakdown of the usual physical and immunological barriers that are present in life.

Also, autopsies are not “sterile” procedures; i.e. the equipment used to obtain specimens is not sterile and can contaminate specimens that are sent to my lab.

As a result, seeing or culturing organism(s) from a sterile site specimen obtained at autopsy cannot be conclusive evidence that that organism was there before the patient died.

Allowing for these factors, the findings of a)suppurative inflammation of the meninges, b) gram-negative bacilli on microscopy of the meninges and pleural space fluid, and c) Haemophilus influenzae DNA detected by PCR of the meninges, together with the clinical findings, are strongly suggestive of invasive H. influenzae infection with secondary pleural space infection and bacterial meningitis.

The fact that the cultures were negative in spite of the positive microscopy is likely to reflect inhibition of growth due to antimicrobial therapy administered in the ICU prior to the autopsy, and does not in any way detract from these findings.

The laboratory that performed the DNA testing were apparently unable to determine whether the H. influenzae was type B (ie the type that is essentially preventable by immunisation), but if I was a betting man I would say that it was.

tl; dr version: Ezekiel had invasive Haemophilus influenzae disease with secondary bacterial meningitis and pleural empyema, which, left untreated, resulted in raised intracranial pressure and ultimately brain death *prior* to the child receivng medical attention. If they were able to type the H. influenzae and it was type B, then this was almost certainly preventable with immunisation.

Shame on these parents, and shame on their ignorant enablers.

@Dorit – That’s pretty much exactly how I took your comment, don’t worry. Of course you never get over it, but eventually you can seemingly act and appear as if you did – you can funtion again.

If one was to be uncharitable (Who? Me? With my reputation?), then 4 years is plenty of time for some post-event “rationalisation”…

Either way the vaccination thing is pretty much not relevant: this is just plain child neglect and abuse (certainly in UK-ia, where those of us health bods working with children were required to report to children’s services families who consistently missed appointments or seemed to be neglecting their child’s health, so that an investigation under the relevant legislation could be carried out ans appropriate action taken).

I am pretty uncharitable and even with 4 years for coming to term, that Stephens had I still find it pretty disgusting how they are spinning the whole thing to paint themselves as victims of oppressive system.

Wheather you one still is in mourning or not, making a propaganda tool out of one’s child dying is not something I can get behind.

What is the status of Del Bigtree and “the doctors” tv show? I would be terrified if he still had any involvement or had a way to use the show to push VAXXED any further.

It would be nice if a competent TV doctor–Sanjay Gupta maybe, spends a bit of time trying to debunk anti-vaccine movies like Vaxxed.

I hope the court takes into consideration a factor I consider much more important than punishing the Stephans.

And that’s keeping them away from their remaining young children until they’re older and stronger, and better able to fend off life-threatening neglect and pseudo-healthcare.

I’m reminded of a case of Munchausen’s by proxy, where two babies died because mom (a nurse) wanted attention. She got a sentence in the range of ten years, (as I recall), enough time so the couple’s remaining child/children could grow big enough to resist suffocation. 5 years might be enough to protect the Stephans’ kids, but I doubt the parents will get more than a year or two, if any jail time at all his handed down.

Orac should’ve marked the video with an explicit warning about viewers taking their prescribed antihypertensive meds and keeping throwable objects out of reach. The parents (especially dad’s) preening self-satisfaction and the fawning of the interviewers is nauseating.

@ Dangerous Bacon

And that’s keeping them away from their remaining young children until they’re older and stronger, and better able to fend off life-threatening neglect and pseudo-healthcare.

That’s a real concern.
Unfortunately, a potential guardian is the Grandpa, a.k.a. the founder of the TrueHope supplement company.

Yep. There’s no good option. The “least bad” option would be for the state to take the children and put them in a foster home.

Foster care is a terrible option. I’m a foster parent, and would never advocate for additional children to be removed over this – the trauma of losing your (even medically neglectful) family is real. I’d say whether or not they go to prison, the least bad option would be for the parents to lose medical rights and have medical guardianship of their children given to someone else until all kids are 18. But as long as they are feeding, clothing and housing them adequately, foster care has many other physical and psychological hazards that I wouldn’t wish on any child.

I truly and sincerely hope the Stephans get to rot in jail for a good long time for their crimes against their son. That they could be so callous and uncaring regarding what had to have been an extremely painful and obviously miserable illness ( severe chest pain in respiratory distress from my emo couples with incapacitating headache and neck pain from meningitis) leading to death in this little boy speaks volumes for their arrogance and selfishness as well as no true concern or love for this child. Having seen and treated children with these illnesses including an unvaccinated one who died just like this little boy, I can tell you there’s nothing subtle about the presenting symptoms for these illnesses. That Bigtree holds the Stephans up as he does tells me Big tree is an ignorant, fame-grabbing pig to boot perhaps in a class as vile as Andrew Wakefield himself.

The biggest problem with jail is martyrdom I think. The additional exposure by the Vaxxed loons almost guarantees a lot of notoriety.

@ #15

I do not know the current status of the Stephan’s surviving children as to guardianship nor relevant Canadian law, but I would think that the court could appoint a non-family member “health and welfare” guardian to ensure certain standards for their care. Of course, given their past record, I wouldn’t deny the possibility of their crying about oppression by the state and fleeing

As someone from Utah who has to hear Chaffetz’s primary re-election ads about “going after” all the leaders of “corrupt” government organizations…. he’ll probably jump all over an excuse to go after the CDC.

@ Chris Hickie

That Bigtree holds the Stephans up as he does tells me Big tree is an ignorant, fame-grabbing pig to boot perhaps in a class as vile as Andrew Wakefield himself.

You are not the only one thinking that these two guys are siblings of a sort.
Quoting/paraphrasing a critic of “Vaxxed”:
“a bad horror movie with Bigtree and Wakefield vying for spotlight time”

I wondered about what woo involved maple syrup –
my search results immediately revealed a Daily Beast article about its effectiveness against bacteria ( it cures everything!) and a natural cancer cure that used baking soda as well**

** including a 2013 article by Orac amongst the first entries. Fancy that!

The parents were found guilty. I wonder whether their public activities and attitude subsequent to the verdict are taken into account at the sentencing.

Does anyone know?

@ Chris Hickie:

Agreed about Bigtree.
As I mentioned elsewhere, he and Jaxen popped up around the time of VAXXED!’s release, clinging to Andy’s coattails for a chance at fame .. actually notoriety.

More proof that David and Collet are narcissistic attention-whores.

YOU HAD ONE JOB. DON’T KILL YOUR KID.

All this trial was about is whether or not you did or didn’t, could or could have. You were convicted and now you’re being sentenced. That’s it, you fools. Your son didn’t have to die, Ezekiel should be alive right now, almost 6 years old and maybe riding a bike with no training wheels, propelling a scooter down the sidewalk, antagonizing his siblings, but you failed at your ONE JOB and now he’s dead.

Pathetic, deluded, soulless people.

Not once do they refer to him by name. They only say his name when they’re asking letters for support.

They’re asking for people in “jeans and white t-shirts” to show up at the courthouse in Lethbridge to advocate on their behalf.

Who advocated for Ezekiel?

I wonder whether their public activities and attitude subsequent to the verdict are taken into account at the sentencing.

It’s been suggested that they may.

I’ll shut up (temporarily) now, but Orac, I agree with DB on the warning, I screamed “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK” so loudly that I scared the dogs. This video is beyond the pale. I actually feel slightly sorry for Collet, I don’t know why. David is just — I don’t even have the words.

An appropriate sentence for these sc*mbags is a weekend vacation in Churchill during polar bear season. Also, they would be given a tent, smeared with honey and given butter knives (for protection reasons).

I sound an internal scream whenever I read a line like, “treating him with herbs and maple syrup.” No. No. No. No. No. As David Stephan says, “that’s not the case at all.”. Drill this into your brains, people:

The Stephans were trying to cure Ezekiel with supplements produced by Truehope, the Stephan family ‘natural health’ scam!

Specifically, they were relying on the ‘immune system booster’ and ‘natural antibacterial’ Truehope OLE (Olive Leaf Extract). Had they taken the lad to a doctor, they would have been admitting their snake oil didn’t work.

The US distributor associated with Truehope is, of course, in Utah, and the Stephan family are supposedly devout Mormans. So I wouldn’t imagine Jason Chaffetz will be worried that his new pal Del hangs with remorseless child-killers. Hell, I bet the remorseless child-killer paterfamilias has funneled a fair chunk of cash to Chaffetz’s campaign coffers. Really, does anyone think Tony Stephan is unknown at The Dietary Supplement Caucus? Hell, Tony Stephan could have gotten Del the invite with Chaffetz, as a quid-pro-quo for Del blowing the sympathy-and-outrage trumpet days before the judge delivers the verdict on his son and daughter-in-law?

[sarcasm] Nah. I’m sure the timing of Del’s sit-down with Chaffetz occuring just before the scheduled reading of the Stephan verdict is nothing more than a coincidence. [/sarcasm]

Yes, it’s about their reliance on Truehope, but the broader perspective is their rejection of the mainstream. Ezekiel was born at home, with an unregulated midwife in attendance. Collet had no antenatal care and Ezekiel had never once seen a medical doctor. It’s a lifestyle choice, living off the grid, special snowflakes, etc. Their ideology won and Ezekiel lost.

I just wanted to say something about parental grief, about whether Ezekiel’s parents loved him and whether they’ve been able to put their grief in a different place now that 4 years have elapsed since his death. I think the Stephans did love Ezekiel. Most parents, even bad ones, seem to love their kids. The difference is, for good parents, there is nothing you really love more than your kid.

Terrie Meynders is actually a RM (registered midwife). My mistake. I do wonder if Collet saw Meynders in an official capacity, since she is frequently referred to as nurse and family friend.

@ sadmar

I will admit, the way the maple syrup/fruit juice thing was reported, it sounded more like an attempt at feeding the poor child with sugar-rich liquids than a belief in the curing powers of maple syrup.
David Stephan did wax over the benefits of Truehope products to the police officer at the hospital, didn’t he?

Now, when people say that Ezekiel only got maple syrup and fruit juices to treat his meningitis – in the sense that he got little else – that’s not that far from the truth.

If my recollection of sentencing by a Crown Court suffices, subsequent to conviction behavior is taken into account, as such can be as damning as pre-conviction behavior and perhaps, even more so. After all, during trial, a defendant is on his or her best behavior, after, not so much so – they tend to fall off of their guard.
So, a conviction has told them that they were wrong, in no uncertain terms. When they insist that they are right, they reject the findings of the court and the court takes note of that rejection at sentencing.

For, let’s review what requirements that their mythical ambulance would have to have to have successfully saved the life of this poor child.
A respirator, heart-lung machine available to support cardiovascular collapse, craniotomy surgical set (with neurosurgeon), antibiotics (and physician to administer them), stasis field, antigravity field and a real wizard, to provide magical life support.
While the assorted medical personnel do exist, as do the medical devices short of the science fiction stasis and antigravity, such are never carried on any standard ambulance on the planet. They’re not on an ACLS ambulance either. Indeed, such are only included in the very same realm as antigravity, stasis and wizards – fiction.

Here’s a hint for those without medical knowledge. If your child has a fever, stiff neck and photophobia (can’t stand light), waiting for the child to stop breathing is a bad thing.

For the record, while Canadian courts still utilize the concept of “Queen on the Bench”, with mild divergence from UK Crown Courts, the traditions remain quite similar in many ways. Hence, the use of the term Crown Court.

In defense of the EMTs:
(Disclaimer: I am a (former) EMT so I tend to sympathetic)

If they didn’t check their equipment and really didn’t all their airway supplies then shame on them. You do that every day, no matter what. The “can’t be bothered to do check/clean/maintain your ambulance attitude” is all too common.

On the other hand, I think it’s possible they made the (very likely clinically correct) decision not to intubate and the Stephans’ are (surprisingly) being dishonest. Intubating a young kid, in the back of a moving ambulance while doing compressions is pretty much a nightmare scenario.

In most places, and consistent with the best available evidence, intubation is not the first choice for airway management in cardiac arrests. It would make more sense for a respiratory cause or a very long transport time but that was not the situation.

Given the details I know about the case, unless we were having significant difficulties ventilating with a bag and mask I would not have intubated in that situation.

Re: the maple syrup

Collet gave Ezekiel water mixed with maple syrup early on in his illness, when, after talking with Ms. Meynders, she thought he just had croup. The water-maple syrup mixture was to increase his fluid intake. It was not given to him when meningitis was suspected. That is one fact that people really need to get right.

Once meningitis was suspected (and Ms. Meynders told Collet that they should take him to a real doctor), Collet decided to go onto the internet to “research” meningitis. She decided to take on the role of doctor herself instead of consulting a real one. Convinced that doctors would just give Ezekiel antibiotics, she and David decided to give him “natural antibiotics” like garlic, even though garlic has no systemic antibiotic properties. They also gave him supplements like Truehope to “boost his immune system”.

I’ve got more details over at Harpocrates Speaks, including portions of the findings of fact.

I’m sure that, in their own misguided way, David and Collet did love Ezekiel. However, they were incredibly medically ignorant and irrationally overconfident in their own knowledge and skills. All parents make mistakes and have lapses of judgment, but that is not an excuse for negligence.

Whatever punishment they receive, I hope that it also involves intensive education on proper responses. They have three other kids (8, 3, and 1 years old). If they cannot make appropriate medical decisions, then that right should be taken from them.

@Wzrd1
For what it’s worth, critical care ambulances generally carry vents, antibiotics and in very rare cases patients can be transported on ECMO (though this is a huge ordeal that requires tons of equipment, personnel, multiple ambulances and a police escort). Some systems allow CC teams to respond to field calls but this would not have warranted that (they generally only respond for extended extrication).

@capnkrunch

Here’s some info from the case regarding the final emergency run to the hospital. The Stephans were on the phone with 911 after Ezekiel stopped breathing. 911 instructed them on what to do, and because he started breathing again, David told the operator not to send an ambulance, that they would drive Ezekiel to the hospital themselves. Twenty minutes later, they finally got in their car to head to the hospital. Along the way, Ezekiel stopped breathing again, and they again called 911 and asked for an ambulance to meet them on the way. When EMS arrived, Ezekiel showed signs of being dead (no pulse/blood pressure, heart rate 0, not breathing, and the lowest possible Glascow Coma Score).

Then, from the findings of fact:

The emergency responders immediately started and performed continuous CPR on Ezekiel during transport to the Cardston hospital, but were unable to secure an airway for about 8 minutes, just before arrival at the hospital. They did then observe Ezekiel’s chest rise and fall. The ambulance had been de-stocked of endotracheal equipment which may have been of assistance in securing an airway.

So it does look like the ambulance was not properly stocked, but even if it had been, I’m not sure they could have saved the boy.

How interesting.

Something that appears to have vanished from their narrative is the event that triggered them to call 911 — their son had stopped breathing. The mother was reportedly performing CPR when the ambulance arrived, and had been for some time. It wasn’t even their first 911 call that day; he’d stopped breathing earlier, but they cancelled the ambulance the first time, saying they’d transport him themselves. Which eventually they did do, but he stopped breathing before they got there, so they started CPR and called 911.

So there are two things that have been omitted by them: first, that the child had already stopped breathing, and second, that the first medical transport they arranged was their own damn car, after they’d refused an ambulance earlier. So yeah, I completely blame the people operating the vehicle that picked him up from his house. Because those people are his parents, the people convicted of causing his death through medical neglect.

I gotta learn to read the comments before responding. 😛 I see others have already commented on that. It’s just really interesting to me that they’re intentionally leaving out the fact that their son had already stopped breathing. They were happy to show their heroic efforts to perform CPR before, when it made it look like they were trying to save him, but now that it’s clear he died before EMTs arrived, they’ve tossed that down the memory hole.

@ capnkrunch

As I pointed out in a previous thread, here is an article quoting one of the paramedics, and a link to a longer part of his testimony during the trial.

The paramedic is claiming he did know about the lack of proper tools and consumables; he had already requested more masks, but they had not been provided at the time of the emergency.

I read the article as the sentencing arguments were shortly interrupted and then resumed?

Ross Miles: “now a claim of a falsified autopsy.”

From the article is was a claim from the mother. A quick Google reveals that it a claim that is now circulating in less than respectable websites (like Elizabeth Erin’s HealthNutNews). With that level of evidence, it looks like the proceedings were resumed.

Pro-tip: argument from blatant assertion does not get you far in both science and a court room.

Dorit @ 46

Right, were temporally halted and have resumed according to the updated version.

The article does say that the hearing resumed. CBC frequently updates articles without any indication of of what has changed with the update.

A couple of points I find interesting:

Though there was an admission that the ambulance didn’t have the appropriate size of bag valve mask or ET tube, the EMTs apparently tubed the boy adequately to accomplish ventilation. I have seen nothing from the defense (in popular media; I haven’t see trial transcripts) to seriously support that the lack was contributory to Ezekiel’s death.

David isn’t going to be be called by the defense during the sentencing hearing. I very strongly suspect this is because the defense lawyer has recognized that he would be nothing but a liability, given his performances since the trial. (Collet’s testimony at the hearing has certainly been of the” boo-hoo, poor me” class – see article at Ross’s link.)

@ Chris

Agreed in science, blatant assertion gets one nowhere but in a courtroom, not always so sure. There was evidence given in the trial of the autopsy possibly being wrong.

I wonder if the temporary halt was at the request of the defense lawyer – “Her lawyer, Shawn Buckley, said he had no idea she had planned to make such a statement.” I can sort of picture Buckley cringing and hiding under furniture.

You are not the only one thinking that these two guys are siblings of a sort.
Quoting/paraphrasing a critic of “Vaxxed”:
“a bad horror movie with Bigtree and Wakefield vying for spotlight time”

Actually, from my perspective, Wakefield and Bigtree seem to have quite the bromance going.

I sound an internal scream whenever I read a line like, “treating him with herbs and maple syrup.” No. No. No. No. No. As David Stephan says, “that’s not the case at all.”. Drill this into your brains, people:

The Stephans were trying to cure Ezekiel with supplements produced by Truehope, the Stephan family ‘natural health’ scam!

Specifically, they were relying on the ‘immune system booster’ and ‘natural antibacterial’ Truehope OLE (Olive Leaf Extract). Had they taken the lad to a doctor, they would have been admitting their snake oil didn’t work.

Of course, there is no reason that both can’t be true at the same time. After all, David Stephan himself states in the video that they were treating Ezekiel with homeopathic remedies and herbal medicine.

Yes, it’s about their reliance on Truehope, but the broader perspective is their rejection of the mainstream. Ezekiel was born at home, with an unregulated midwife in attendance. Collet had no antenatal care and Ezekiel had never once seen a medical doctor. It’s a lifestyle choice, living off the grid, special snowflakes, etc. Their ideology won and Ezekiel lost.

Exactly. The parents’ being in the thrall of Truehope was only one manifestation of their mystical, pseudoscientific world view that lead to Ezekiel’s end.

“Agreed in science, blatant assertion gets one nowhere but in a courtroom, not always so sure.”

I believe the hearing is before the judge only, which likely would reduce (or perhaps even invert) the impact of such an assertion.

I don’t know how things necessarily work in Canadian Courtrooms, but I know that in the US, one is not allowed to present “new evidence” in a sentencing hearing.

Ross Miles: “There was evidence given in the trial of the autopsy possibly being wrong.”

It is because medicine is hard and more nuanced than they expect. These guys live in a black and white world where no uncertainty is allowed.

“Agreed in science, blatant assertion gets one nowhere but in a courtroom, not always so sure.”

They have learned that evidence is required in the USA to get a claim compensated from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Even for a table injury they need records showing that an event happened within a specified time period.

I believe the “falsified autopsy” notion originated with the Prayers for Ezekiel Facebook page, which posted a scanned copy of the autopsy report (which I included in my post) that has some sections highlighted.

Doug and Chris

It was a somewhat disgraced former Alberta coroner who said it was viral meningitis while the autopsy says bacterial.

I read most of the transcript sometime back when Health Canada took Truehope to court and the judge bought into Truehope assertions, to the point of mind altering, so judges are swayed. What stuck was the assertion of the judge that there were 6,000 people dependent upon Truehope for their very existence. Sorry do not have time to find a link, but it is on the internet now.

I will stay away from the U.S. court system vs Canadian as being off topic, but will say I have little respect for the Canadian and less for the American.

Fake autopsy? …here we go again.

These idiots think they are the smartest people on the planet. Anti vaccidiots, anti medicine, anti science, they don’t understand health and physiology but are too arrogant to admit it. Thus, a bunch of people who have no idea what they are looking at in an autopsy report see something they don’t understand, google it, get a halfassed version (or a completely different scenario of that word) and claim that must be a lie.

Because saying “I don’t know how this works” means admitting that they aren’t the smartest people on earth.

From the CBC article linked upthread:

[The Stephans]treated [Ezekiel] with hot peppers, garlic, onions and horseradish

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over.

Granted that I am not an expert in “natural treatments”, but I don’t see why somebody would think these things are helpful for treating flu or croup in a toddler. Even a healthy kid that age would have trouble getting that stuff down. So would some healthy adults, for that matter–I like spicy food myself, but most people in the part of the US where I live do not.

@Todd W:

I can’t comment at your place because of the limited number of options, but what’s the deal with this one?

Why was an unproven testing method used to diagnose bacterial meningitis?

I’m only getting “non-clinical” from the autopsy report. So… what was it? Nested PCR?

@Narad

I should probably switch over to WordPress or something. Just too lazy to do it.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found out what method was used, other than microscopy. (IIRC, don’t recall at the moment where I saw that).

Ross Miles: “I will stay away from the U.S. court system vs Canadian as being off topic, but will say I have little respect for the Canadian and less for the American.”

No problem. Like all organizations they are made up of mere humans, none of them alike. It is due to the universality of variation. (note: like most who live in a state that borders Canada, we have friends and family north of the border, so we get to hear both the good and bad)

The American National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (US Vaccine Court) has very very lenient requirements for evidence, but the anti-vaxers now hate it. They expected to walk in, tell a story and get handed a check. It did not work out that way, very few were awarded.

When people say that Ezekiel only got maple syrup and fruit juices to treat his meningitis – in the sense that he got little else – that’s not that far from the truth.

Sorry Hellanthus, but that’s VERY far from the truth. The ‘truth’ question at hand for the sentencing isn’t the actual efficacy of the treatments the Stephans gave their son as known to science, it’s what they thought they doing to treat Ezekiel, and why. Consider three narratives explaining that:

1) The ‘dominant media narrative’ typified by ‘maple syrup and fruit juice for meningitis’. This paints the Stephans as criminally naive innocents. (oxymoron intended) The idea here is that they believe a serious illness can be cured by a home brew of common generic grocery products, none of which, of course, are advertised as having medicinal value.

2) David Stephan’s narrative; He’s saying the media narrative is ridiculous, and asserting that he and and his wife were treating Ezekiel with established remedies ‘known to work’ by “tens of thousands of people”. His claim is that they did indeed do “due diligence” by employing a spectrum of such ‘believed to be proven’ remedies, rather than just one. However he casts all those treatments in broad generic terms, e.g. “different homeopathic remedies, different herbal remedies,” in an attempt to invoke any and all beliefs in Alt-Med efficacy. The reference to homeopathy strikes me as a disingenuous appeal to popularity, since the remedies the Stephans gave Ezekiel were all herbals and/or vitamin compounds, not homeopathic dilutions.

I consider both of these narratives false, as they obscure the key truth I noted above: the Stephans’ primary treatments for their son were products sold by their family business, marketed specifically (and fraudulently) as cures for serious illness, and sold at outrageous profit which is the sole source of income for David and Collet Stephan. Thus, the ‘true’ narrative:
3) The Stephans treatment of their sons meningitis was indistinguishable and inseperable from the family’s supplement scam, which has already been implicated in a series of horrors (murder, criminal assault…) as well as the outrageous bilking of any number of vulnerable sick people. The Truth here is that David and Collet Stephan had a powerful financial motive for how they did and didn’t act in response to Ezekiel’s condition.
_________

Before anyone gets too sympathetic for David Stephan’s loss, consider this:

After customers buy a product from the Truehope website, they receive a ‘follow up’ phone call from the Truehope ‘support team’, which is actually a bunch of product salesfolk in a telemarketing boiler room pretending to medical knowledge. The ‘support specialist’ then requests all sorts of medical information for the customer  –  diagnosis, history, current meds. “Our support staff can’t help you if they don’t have a full picture,” one hesitant customer was told. The ‘help’ that comes with the ‘full picture’, not surprisingly is the ‘support specialist’ telling the customer they need to buy various other costly Truehope products for whatever-they-bought-first to work properly for their condition, including the scare tactic of avoiding supposed ‘drug interactions’. By this method, Truehope racks up huge bills for patients with serious psych problems they convince to go off their meds.

One such customer was a young schizophrenia patient from Ottowa named Caro Overdulve. From The Ottowa Citizen [condensed]

Overdulve told his parents his prescription anti-psychotics were making him gain weight and were giving him insomnia. The doctors weren’t listening, he complained. He paid for the first few months of Empowerplus himself, selling his car to pay. His parents, willing to try anything that might help their son, agreed to foot the rest of the bill, arranging for automatic credit card deductions. Over four months, they were billed six times, for a total of more than $1,600. The next month, they were charged $1,248 for an additional six-month supply of the pills.

When they went to visit their son, they found his townhouse filthy. Pots with the charred remains of food were piled in the sink. Drinking glasses and mugs containing liquids were floating islands of mold. Caro was taking 32 capsules a day, eating them by the handful, often missing his mouth, scattering capsules everywhere. He had racked up $600 on his phone bill for calls to a Truehope support line, even though the center had a toll-free line. The Overdulves refused to buy more of the supplements. And their son slipped away from them.

Over the next year, he moved through a string of apartments, rooming houses and homeless shelters, and was hospitalized three times. He accused his father of working for the Mafia and threatened his newborn nephew. Eventually, he was charged with assault, mischief and criminal harassment after a tenant in his building reported he had been struck and obscenities were carved into his door.

Truehope has driven a wedge between the Overdulves and their son, said Mrs. Overdulve. “He listens to them, not to us. There is no getting beyond it,” she said. “Anyone who knew him before doesn’t even recognize him now.”

So, drill this into your brains, folks: David Stephan is the Director of Marketing at Truehope. Guiding that team of ‘support specialists’ in bleeding the Caro Overdulves of the world is HIS JOB, how he spends his days at work.
________
* apologies for my brain-fart in referring to a ‘verdict’ in #33; I meant the sentencing hearing, duh…

There is no reason that both can’t be true at the same time. After all, David Stephan himself states in the video that they were treating Ezekiel with homeopathic remedies and herbal medicine.

Of course he does. He’s dancing the bullshit dance. Taking all his versions of the tale into account, it’s clear they were relying primarily on Truehope products initially, and then added additional herbal nostrums as “due diligence” when Ezekiel took turns for the worse. There are echoes of legalese
here that lead me to suspect Tony Stephan counseled his son to add treatments to deflect blame from falling on Truehope alone after Meynders alerted the family to the possibility of meningitis.

Yes, it’s about their reliance on Truehope, but the broader perspective is their rejection of the mainstream.

Nope. That has it backwards. The broader rejection of the mainstream stems from their reliance on Truehope – as their sole source of income, the scam that puts the food on their table, the spiffy roof over their head, a new car or two in the garage. David Stephan is a grifter, born to grifter parents, raised in the family grift along with his grifter brothers and sisters. Ezeziel was probably bound for the grift, too, before he got sacrificed to it.

The parents’ being in the thrall of Truehope was only one manifestation of their mystical, pseudoscientific world view that lead to Ezekiel’s end.

They weren’t IN ‘the thrall’. They WERE ‘the thrall’. Generating, perpetuating and obscene profiteering on the thrall is David Stephan’s 9-to-5. He IS Truehope. It’s not a manifestation in the Stephans. It’s the source.

If you want an example of someone in the thrall of Truehope, try Caro Overduve and Jordan Ramsay.

if you want to make a comment about ideology’s role in Ezekiel’s death, it helps to know some ideology theory. The “mystical, pseudoscientific world view” of ‘natural health’ in general and supplement cures more specifically only has force when held by a certain critical mass of people who reproduce it and spread it, such that it can operate as an alternative reality appearing as ‘just so’ or ‘common sense’ within some socio-cultural subgroup. So, yeah, that ideology did indeed lead to Ezekiel’s end, as it existed long before Tony Stephan began his Pig Pill racket, creating the conditions that made that grift possible, and so lucrative that David and Collet sold their minds and souls to its terms.

There is no reason that both can’t be true at the same time. After all, David Stephan himself states in the video that they were treating Ezekiel with homeopathic remedies and herbal medicine.

Of course he does. He’s dancing the bullsh!t dance. Taking all his versions of the tale into account, it’s clear they were relying primarily on Truehope products initially, and then added additional herbal nostrums as “due diligence” when Ezekiel took turns for the worse. There are echoes of legalese here that lead me to suspect Tony Stephan counseled his son to add treatments to deflect blame from falling on Truehope alone after Meynders alerted the family to the possibility of meningitis.

Yes, it’s about their reliance on Truehope, but the broader perspective is their rejection of the mainstream.

Nope. That has it backwards. The broader rejection of the mainstream stems from their reliance on Truehope – as their sole source of income, the scam that puts the food on their table, the spiffy roof over their head, a new car or two in the garage. David Stephan is a grifter, born to grifter parents, raised in the family grift along with his grifter brothers and sisters. Ezeziel was probably bound for the grift, too, before he got sacrificed to it.

The parents’ being in the thrall of Truehope was only one manifestation of their mystical, pseudoscientific world view that lead to Ezekiel’s end.

They weren’t IN ‘the thrall’. They WERE ‘the thrall’. Generating, perpetuating and obscene profiteering on the thrall is David Stephan’s 9-to-5. He IS Truehope. It’s not a manifestation in the Stephans. It’s the source.

If you want an example of someone in the thrall of Truehope, try Caro Overduve and Jordan Ramsay.

if you want to make a comment about ideology’s role in Ezekiel’s death, it helps to know some ideology theory. The “mystical, pseudoscientific world view” of ‘natural health’ in general and supplement cures more specifically only has force when held by a certain critical mass of people who reproduce it and spread it, such that it can operate as an alternative reality appearing as ‘just so’ or ‘common sense’ within some socio-cultural subgroup. So, yeah, that ideology did indeed lead to Ezekiel’s end, as it existed long before Tony Stephan began his Pig Pill racket, creating the conditions that made that grift possible, and so lucrative that David and Collet sold their minds and souls to its terms.

Ross, I take your point in the fallibility of judges, particularly with regard to matters of science. I suspect, without good basis for doing so, that in this case the judge is likely to be disinclined to accept an assertion that an autopsy was “falsified”, as something I see a quite distinct from “erroneous” – the former a deliberate attempt to deceive by someone who is an officer of the court, or very close there-to.

Again, as with the notion of the mask/intubation issue, I would have expected the defense lawyer to hammer the point very hard at trial if there was reason to believe it would help the defense case. As my brother says, drawing a parallel between trials and internet trolls, testimony not challenged tends to be accepted as true.

Would any of our path’ experts care to explain this phase from the autopsy report “organizing acute suppurative neutrophilic inflammation of the meninges”? I understand it in general, but I don’t know what “organizing” means here. Could this result from viral infection?

Regardless of whether the meningitis was bacterial or viral, had the little guy’s parents acted even a couple of hours sooner, he could have been in intensive care in the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary before the clock marked the time at which he first stopped breathing. Instead, by the time he got there it was too late, and his remains made the short trip just down the hill to Medical Examiner’s building.

@ Sadmar

Before anyone gets too sympathetic for David Stephan’s loss

Oh, I was not going to be any sympathetic for the parents.
And I see your point about the TrueHope.

@ Eric Lund

Granted that I am not an expert in “natural treatments”, but I don’t see why somebody would think these things are helpful for treating flu or croup in a toddler.

Since at least a decade, garlic is currently very popular at being a supposed cure for the flu. I guess a similar narrative could be found for the others. Garlic, onions and other plants with a strong taste always had some good PR as folks’ herbal remedies.
Heck, physicians treating the plague victims during the Renaissance were putting cloves and other flagrant herbs in the nose of their weird “gas mask” to protect themselves.

The Stephans didn’t invent this cure by spices all by themselves. There are plenty of other people who would think it’s a good idea. Not that would actually make it a good idea.

Maybe that’s another thing we should keep in mind: the Stephans are not outliers in the alt-med world. They are espousing all the mainstream ideas of the average science denier.
Stephan may have been telling the true when saying that, in North America, “tens of thousands of people do” treat their children with similar mixes of snake oil pills and homemade herbal concoctions.

“Since at least a decade, garlic is currently very popular at being a supposed cure for the flu. I guess a similar narrative could be found for the others. Garlic, onions and other plants with a strong taste always had some good PR as folks’ herbal remedies.”

Well, garlic, onions and assorted other aromatics are an effective treatment for a flavorless meal. Some were even documented for being antimicrobial in food items, preserving the food for a bit longer than it would have otherwise have lasted, in an era before refrigeration. As an enteric cure for disease, not so much at all.
Still, a half of a cigarette eaten can help stun some worms, permitting them to pass, if one didn’t have *real* medication available. That would allow one to complete a mission, then one could receive definitive treatment.*

“Heck, physicians treating the plague victims during the Renaissance were putting cloves and other flagrant herbs in the nose of their weird “gas mask” to protect themselves.”

That was courtesy of miasma theory, the theory that malodorous things transmitted disease. As an anti-infection palliative, utterly ineffective. As a method of avoiding the odor to some decree from purifying wounds, meh, maybe it might have helped a little.

*Special Forces Medical Handbook

Would you guess the members of The Dietary Supplement Caucus would be familiar with The Natural Health Products Protection Association – a non profit with “the sole object” of “protecting access to Natural Health Products and Dietary Supplements” by “identifying and responding to threats facing the Natural Health Product and Dietary Supplement industry”?

Like maybe the NHPPA would lobby that caucus, and the caucus would be friendl to the NHPPA?

The President of the The Natural Health Products Protection Association is one Shawn Buckley, LLB, Collet and David’s defense lawyer, and Truehope’s long-time legal mouthpiece in it’s long history of troubles with lawsuits and the Canadian authorities.

And here, courtesy of the Calgary Sun live feed (http://tinyurl.com/j5z2t9h), is what Attorney Buckley is doing this afternoon:

Crown in the meningitis death intends to show a video as part of its argument of an interview between the Stephans and the makers of Vaxxed.
In the interview the Stephans say they were charged because they didn’t vaccinate their children including Ezekiel.
The producers of Vaxxed question why the Stephans were charged saying the court process was part of an “incredible, lying machine.
Defence now objecting to the Crown playing a video interview David Stephan gave to a anti-vax documentary maker.
Defence desperate to quash video of David&Collet #stephan outside #yyc theatre blaming ambulance for son’s death. Could impact sentence.
Prosecutor Clayton Giles says the Stephans gave the interview. “They can not be surprised by the content of an interview they provided.”
Defence lawyer now making excuses about his client’s lack of remorse caught on video. He’s blaming the media too. All the media’s fault.
Apparently all of the problems facing the Stephans can be tied to – ta da – the media. Shawn Buckley arguing against anti-vax interview.
Justice Jerke going to hear anti-vax interview. “We will see how relevant in due course”.
Defence fails. Judge says play TouTube video, showing #stephan blaming ambulance for son’s death. Airing in court now.
Judge gives guilty parents a withering stare as videographer calls court/media a “lying machine” on video willingly made by #stephan
Words now haunting David #stephan as Crown says it shows he lacks remorse and wasn’t genuine in trial. Pre-sentence video rant=bad idea.

Nope. That has it backwards. The broader rejection of the mainstream stems from their reliance on Truehope – as their sole source of income, the scam that puts the food on their table, the spiffy roof over their head, a new car or two in the garage. David Stephan is a grifter, born to grifter parents, raised in the family grift along with his grifter brothers and sisters. Ezeziel was probably bound for the grift, too, before he got sacrificed to it.

Nope. Not buying it. The very reason Truehope exists in the first place is due to a broader rejection of mainstream medicine based on a pseudoscientific mystical world view.

They weren’t IN ‘the thrall’. They WERE ‘the thrall’. Generating, perpetuating and obscene profiteering on the thrall is David Stephan’s 9-to-5. He IS Truehope. It’s not a manifestation in the Stephans. It’s the source.

Again, there’s no reason both can’t be true at the same time. Stephan could be the “thrall” and be in the thrall at the same time. At the very minimum, judging by the looks on his wife’s face, she was/is in the thrall. It’s all very cult-like. Consider, for instance, Scientology. David Miscavige is arguably a believer, but also a grifter who uses Scientology for profit and control. Slightly lower down the food chain, Tom Cruise is a high ranking member of the church and clearly a believer, one of the duped. However, his status is such that he gains considerable perks from his belief. I’d tend to liken Tony Stephan to Miscavige and David Stephan to Tom Cruise.

And here, courtesy of the Calgary Sun live feed (http://tinyurl.com/j5z2t9h), is what Attorney Buckley is doing this afternoon:

Yes, it was very stupid of David Stephan to allow himself to be used by the VAXXED crew this way. Now he and his wife are likely to pay the price, while Del Bigtree can more effectively paint them as martyrs to the cause and portray any harsher sentence they get as potentially being due to their having spoken out.

Would any of our path’ experts care to explain this phase from the autopsy report “organizing….”

IANOOOPE. “With resolution of [bacterial] meningitis, cells disappear in the order in which they appeared.” (I think this should start on the first of the three relevant pages.)

Neutrophils, as first responders, peak early in viral (aseptic) meningitis. I don’t know that they really have a plausible nonbacterial explanation for why they’re hanging out on the corner of Meninges and Purulence.

Narad @ 77:

There is no plausible explanation for neutrophilic inflammation, gram-negative bacilli on microscopy, and H. influenza DNA detection by PCR, other than bacterial meningitis caused by H. influenzae.

At least not in the real world.

Re: validity of H. influenzae detection by PCR: the autopsy report doesn’t go into details, but I presume that the laboratory they send their specimens to hasn’t validated a PCR test for H. influenzae detection in CSF collected before or after death. My lab has, but we see so few cases of HiB meningitis nowadays (due to the spectacular impact of immunisation) that it it hard to keep the test validated…

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