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Parents Convicted In Faith-Healing Death Of Their Daughter

June 13, 1985 GMT

WARSAW, Ind. (AP) _ A man whose faith-healing prayers failed to save his ailing daughter was convicted Wednesday on charges of reckless homicide and criminal recklessness in her death. His wife also was convicted of the latter charge.

But the jury acquitted Faith Assembly church members James H. Menne and his 45-year-old wife, Ione, of child neglect. Mrs. Menne also was acquitted of reckless homicide.

Menne, 38, and his wife had been charged in the death of their 15-year-old daughter, Pamela, who died Sept. 16 at the family’s rural Warsaw home from untreated chronic kidney failure.

The Mennes, the third Faith Assembly couple convicted on charges filed in the death of children from treatable illnesses, showed no reaction as Superior Court Judge Robert Burner read the verdicts after more than seven hours of jury deliberations.

The Noble County-based Faith Assembly teaches members to shun conventional medical care and trust God to heal illness.

The couple held hands, but did not speak as the jury left the courtroom.

Duane Huffer, a defense attorney, said, ″I think the testimony regarding Mr. Menne as the head of the household″ resulted in the more serious conviction against him.

″I was the one who ministered to Pamela,″ Menne told the jury Tuesday. ″I am the head of the household. The responsibility of my children rests with me.″

Menne testified that he prayed over Pamela as she suffered the seizure that ended her life after three months of failing health, but never sought professional medical help.

Burner set sentencing for July 25.

The reckless homicide charge carries a maximum prison term of eight years and a $10,000 fine. The criminal recklessness charge, a misdemeanor, carries a maximum six-month sentence.

The Rev. Hobart E. Freeman, the founder of Faith Assembly, was indicted last October with the Mennes on charges of aiding and abetting in the same charges filed against the couple. The charges against Freeman were dismissed after his death last December from untreated heart disease. He was 64.

In September, Gary Hall, 33, and his wife, Margaret, 28, of rural Churubusco, were sentenced to five years in prison on charges of reckless homicide and child neglect in the death of their 26-day-old son from untreated pneumonia.

David B. Bergmann, 28, and his wife, Kathleen, 27, were sentenced in October to 10 years in prison following their convictions on the same charges in the death of their 9-month-old daughter from untreated meningitis.