worst cure for autism: don't try this at home
- Whatever else may be said of faith healing, let no one claim it is harmless.
The following article, attributed to Juliet Williams of the Associated Press,
appeared on page A4 of the Wednesday, August 27, 2003 edition of The Arizona
MINISTER CHARGED IN BOY'S DEATH
Autistic Child Suffocated At Church Service
Milwaukee--A church minister who believed demons possessed an eight-year-old
autistic boy was charged Tuesday with physical abuse of a child in the boy's
Ray Hemphill, 45, was charged with physical abuse of a child causing great
bodily harm, a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and $25,000
in fines. The charges stem from a Friday service at the storefront Faith
Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith.
A criminal complaint said the boy's mother, Patricia Cooper, told
investigators Hemphill held Terrance Cottrell Jr. down on the ground with
one hand on his head, another between his legs, and his knee pressed into
the boy's chest. Another woman lay across his torso while she and another
woman each held one of his legs.
"She stated that while this was going on, she could see Ray Hemphill talking
to Terrance Cottrell and telling him that the 'Demon should leave him,'"
for about two hours, the complaint said.
When the service was over, Cooper said the boy was not breathing, and his
face appeared blue. She said several people tried to revive him, but they
finally called 911 around midnight.
The boy suffered extensive bruising on the back of his neck and died of
suffocation because he couldn't breathe, the complaint said.
Hemphill told investigators he believed the boy was possessed by demons. He
said he had held several sessions in the past three weeks to cure the boy,
each lasting two to three hours. He said parishioners would pray and sing
around Terrance, but the boy kicked and scratched at them.
Hemphill said Friday's session started around 7:30 P.M. and was relatively
intense. It was hot in the room, which was not air conditioned, and there
were no breaks to get refreshments or go to the bathroom. Hemphill said
he lay face-to-face on the boy's chest for about an hour.
"He states that when he rose up off Terrance Cottrell both he and Terrance
Cottrell's shirts were soaking wet with sweat," the complaint said.
Although the medical examiner ruled the boy's death a homicide, Milwaukee
County District Attorney E. Michael McCann said that charge would have
required prosecutors to prove Hemphill knew his actions would likely kill
the boy, rather than just hurt him.
Hemphill was still in custody Tuesday, sheriff's officials said.
Terrance's father, Terrance Cottrell Sr., told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
on Monday that he wants everyone involved in his son's death to be held