published Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

'Father charged with child abuse' and more news from the Chattanooga region

Father charged with child abuse

BRADLEY COUNTY, Tenn. — A 22-year-old Bradley County man has been charged with aggravated child abuse, according to the Bradley County Sheriff's Office.

Ricky Dean Smith is being held in the county jail without bond pending a Jan. 15 hearing in General Sessions Court, a news release states.

The office was contacted Friday by the Tennessee Department of Children's Services to investigate injuries to Smith's 5-week-old son that had occurred at the family's Francisco Road home. The injuries apparently occurred Wednesday when the infant was being cared for by his father, according to the sheriff's office.

The infant was taken to T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital in Chattanooga.


Stepmom bonds out of jail

GADSDEN, Ala. — Authorities say the 28-year-old woman accused of failing to intervene when her 9-year-old stepdaughter was forced to run until she collapsed and died has bonded out of jail.

WBMA-TV reported Jessica Mae Hardin was released Monday after her bond was reduced late last week from $500,000 to $150,000.

Hardin is charged along with Joyce Hardin Garrard, 47, in the death of Savannah Hardin, who was ordered to run for three hours for lying about eating a chocolate bar without permission last February.

Hardin Garrard, the girl's grandmother, is being held without bond on a capital murder charge.


Faith healer got medical help

LOUDON, Tenn. — An East Tennessee prosecutor says a faith healer sought medical care for himself after urging a woman not to take her daughter to a doctor. The teen later died of cancer.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported records show Ariel Ben Sherman died Nov. 28 at a South Carolina hospital of respiratory arrest at age 78 while being treated for cancer.

"It's sad and ironic," Loudon County Deputy District Attorney General Frank Harvey said. "He [Sherman] lived by a different standard."

Sherman persuaded Jacqueline Crank not to seek medical care for her daughter, Jessica Crank, who died at 15 of a rare form of cancer. Sherman called himself the teen's "spiritual father."

Sherman and Jacqueline Crank were convicted in May 2012 of misdemeanor neglect in the child's death in September 2002. They initially had been charged with felony child neglect.

Because Sherman has died, his attorney has filed a motion to dismiss an appeal pending before the state Court of Criminal Appeals.

A major constitutional question remains before the appellate court -- that being whether the state spiritual exemption statute that allows parents to forego medical treatment is in violation of the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection.

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