BOSTON -- -- A Christian Scientist convicted with his wife last month of manslaughter in the death of their son said in an interview published this week that he would rather go to jail than provide court-mandated medical care for his children.
But he will abide by the probation sentence, David Twitchell, 35, told the Boston Globe, because if he went to jail, the court would require that his children receive medical care anyway.
David and Ginger Twitchell, third-generation Christian Scientists, were found guilty after a two-month trial here in the death of their 2 1/2-year-old son, Robyn, who died of a bowel obstruction when they prayed for him but did not seek a doctor.
The Twitchells were sentenced to 10 years' probation.
They were ordered by a judge to provide routine medical care for their three children and any others they may have, and to seek a physician's care immediately if the children exhibit any signs of serious illness.
The sentence was not unprecedented, but it cut against the grain of Christian Science, which generally shuns medicine in favor of spiritual healing.
"We feel we have been open to considering the medical option, both before and after Robyn's death, and we feel we care about our children and can evaluate their needs more than any other person," Twitchell said.
"If I had the choice of going to jail over having the state reach into our home and mandating that we deny our children the best system of healing that we know of, then I would seriously consider that option," he said.
The Twitchells now live on Long Island in New York and he works at a Christian Science retirement home. Twitchell told the Globe that prior to his conviction, he was administrator at the home but that he could no longer hold that position after his conviction, according to the state's Social Services Department. He has a lesser job now, he said, with reduced pay.
He and his wife have appealed the conviction, he said, and if an appeals court overturns it, he hopes he can get his old job back.
Twitchell told the Globe that if he weren't under probation and one of his children exhibited the same flu-like symptoms that Robyn did, he would try praying first. But if prayer didn't help, he would seek medical treatment, he said.
"My children are first," he said. "I'd give up my job, I'd give up my religion. I'd give up everything."