The case of Daniel Hauser, a 13-year-old child who has Hodgkin's lymphoma but refuses to undergo treatment, took a dramatic twist into criminal-land today after he and his mother, Colleen Hauser, failed to appear in court for a hearing. According to a local news report, the judge in the case proceeded to issue an arrest warrant for Colleen Hauser, and followed that up with an order requiring that Daniel be taken into protective custody.
For anyone just catching up on the case, Daniel and his parents have refused to get treatment on the basis of their religious beliefs. But a judge last week ruled that the parents had "medically neglected" Daniel and that the state was permitted to intervene to get him the necessary treatment. At that time, the judge had indicated that custody would remain with the parents, although that's no longer going to be the case.
Daniel's father, Anthony Hauser, who actually did show up for today's hearing, told the court he doesn't know where Daniel and Colleen are (big surprise, there). The report noted his testimony:
"[Colleen] said she was going to leave," Hauser testified. "She said, 'That's all you need to know.' And that's all I know."
The same judge's prior decision requiring that Daniel take part in the chemotherapy had emphasized how all the parties in the proceeding were acting in good faith up to that point. However, the good faith appears to be at an end now, and which could lead to significant legal consequences with the first being a loss of custody of Daniel.
Parents who medically neglect their children, sometimes all the way to tragic ends, can end up facing serious criminal charges despite their religious beliefs. Just today, the AP reported on the ongoing trial of the mother of 11-year-old Madeline Neumann, who passed away due to untreated diabetes. Her mother, Leilani Neumann, faces a second-degree reckless homicide charge based on claims she and her family should have known something was seriously wrong but instead recklessly let her die "by praying instead of rushing her to a doctor". The defense in that case is arguing that the parents didn't know how sick their daughter was "until it was too late", and comparatively speaking, the Hausers may have a tough time making that argument. Considering the range of legal issues raised by this case, more will surely be coming up.