A deeply religious Canadian Christian has been convicted over a botched up home-circumcision attempt. He was found guilty of negligence in causing bodily harm to his four-year-old son.
The man circumcised his son with a razor blade and used a blood coagulant meant for horses. It was all part of a spiritual quest after a series of misfortunes hit his family, the father claimed.
AdvertisementThe British Columbia Supreme Court heard that after a bad motorcycle accident in 2002 left both the man and his wife with brain injuries, the father convinced himself that both he and son needed to be circumcised to celebrate Passover.
He began researching home circumcision on the internet and in the Bible, and by listening to a radio show.
His first attempt to circumcise himself ended up with his foreskin turning black and only part of it cut off. When he couldn't stop the bleeding, he called an ambulance, and a doctor in a hospital emergency room ended up stitching up the bleeding wound.
But he would not give up, his son too had to go through the process. Only then God could be propitiated, the then Jehovah's Witness believed. Some fellow zealots in the web world told him they used a veterinary powder to halt any bleeding when they circumcised their 13-year-old son.
The man testified in court that, after the boy consented to the circumcision, he fed him some mead — a biblical beverage made from honey — lay him on the kitchen floor, stretched his penis across a cutting board and cut off part of the foreskin.
When asked in court whether the man used ice to ease the boy's pain, he replied, "Where would the Israelites have found ice?"
He then applied some salve he had procured, gave the boy some ice cream and told him he could watch whatever movies he wanted that week, before heading off to church, leaving the boy in the care of his mother, who could not stand the sight of blood.
Jehova's Witnesses are so fundamentalist in their understanding of the Bible that they even refuse blood transfusion - for them blood is sacred and represents life in God's eyes.
The Canadian had actually contacted several doctors and rabbis, all of whom refused to perform the operation either because the boy was too young for a general anesthetic or because the family was not Jewish.
So after a trip to London Drugs to buy razor blades in January 2006, he asked his son if he could cut off his foreskin, so he could be just like dad. The boy agreed.
After the circumcision, the boy spent the next few days walking with his legs wide apart, until a social worker, who caught wind of the operation, brought two police officers to the house to take the boy into protective custody for a medical examination.
After the medical staff found the boy's penis coated in a thick cap of black tarry substance, they decided to remove the rest of the family's children from the home.
Meanwhile, a surgeon removed "a beehive coating" from the boy's penis before properly circumcising him.
He told the court that the blades by the father were neither sharp nor sterile. The kitchen cutting board under the boy's penis could have been covered with bacteria from food. Besides the veterinary coagulant was inappropriate and could have led to bleeding and infection. He would likely have ended up with a disfigured penis had the operation not been completed.
The boy and his sister now live with their mother, and the father is banned from seeing them.
In court, the man's lawyer, Douglas Christie, argued the man's desire to fulfill his religious duty negated any criminal intent.
And in her ruling issued on Wednesday, Judge Marion Allan found the man not guilty on charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon, saying the man did not seriously harm the boy and the razor blade was not used as a weapon.
But the judge also ruled the child could not have consented to the operation and the father should have known he needed a trained professional to perform it — especially given his own first-hand experience — and found him guilty of negligence causing bodily harm. But the sentence is yet to be handed down.