3 11-14-88 06:08 pps ill, ore. Stiff prison term is message for abusive cults SPOKANE, Wa
3 11-14-88 06:08 pps ill, ore.
Stiff prison term is message for abusive cults
SPOKANE, Wash. (UPI) _ A judge issuing a warning to religious
cults that child abuse will not be tolerated Monday when he
imposed a stiff prison sentence on a church leader in the death
from untreated diabetes of a 10-year-old boy.
Discarding prosecuting and defense attorneys' recommendations
for a 30-day jail term, Superior Court Judge John Schultheis
ordered a two-year prison term for Jeffrey Siegel, former Spokane
pastor of the "No-Name Fellowship."
"I have an obligation, I believe, to send a message to whoever
might be in the same situation you were in and anyone who might
be interested in beginning a religious cult, to let them know
this activity cannot be tolerated," Schultheis said.
Siegel pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal distreatment
in the December death of Aaron Norman at his Mead, Wash., home.
Prosecutors said the boy's parents, at the urging of Siegel and
fellowship founder Doug Kleber, spanked and prayed for the dying
boy and failed to seek medical attention.
Kleber, 34, also pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal
mistreatment and is to be sentenced next month. The victim's
father, Bob Norman, was convicted of manslaughter after an
emotional trial and probably also will be sentenced in December.
Charges were dismissed against Aaron's mother, Judith.
Schultheis reprimanded Siegel for deliberate cruelty in
Aaron's death, particularly for recommending spanking the dying
Siegel, 33, who now lives in Champaign, Ill., had faced a
maximum of five years in prison for the criminal mistreatment
conviction and for pleading guilty to simple assault for spanking
an adult church member with a belt during church services.
Siegel and lawyers for Kleber and Bob Norman had no comment
after the sentencing.
The fellowship, which had no official name, was founded in the
1970s in Champaign by Kleber as a Bible study group for athletes.
Kleber, who now lives in Urbana, Ill., was a University of
Illinois football standout.
The group's leaders believe in harsh discipline, the literal
meaning of the Bible and faith healing rather than traditional
Before Aaron's death, the fellowship had about 200 adult
members in Spokane; Champaign; Plano, Texas; and Passaic, N.J.
Former fellowship members say that at one point, about three
years ago, the founder of the Ecclesia Athletic Association spoke
to No-Name Fellowship members in Illinois.
They say Eldridge Broussard Jr. frightened the fellowship
members during his short stay. Fifty-five children in
Broussard's Oregon group, mostly from the Los Angeles area, were
taken into protective custody this fall after his 8-year-old
daughter died, allegedly from beatings.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank