Ariel Ben Sherman, the leader of New Life Tabernacle in Tennessee, may not get away with child abuse after all, regarding the death of a teenage child in his obscure group.

Sherman and the mother of a Jessica Crank, a 15-year-old girl who died during September, have now been indicted by a grand jury, reports WATE Channel 6 News in Knoxville.

Previously charges had been dismissed against the pair, due largely to a provision within Tennessee law that allows religious groups to choose prayer over medicine.

Proper medical care was not given to Jessica Crank, who must have died painfully due to a grossly enlarged tumor.

Early treatment might have prolonged the girl’s life, or at least diminished her suffering.

Sherman has been charged before with child abuse.

Social workers in Oregon testified that he had children “bound with ropes and suspended from the ceiling for hours on end [and they were]…forced to squat in an empty pool and sprayed with cold water if they soiled themselves.”

Sherman fled those charges and eventually re-established his “ministry” in Tennessee.

Hopefully, he won’t get off as easily this time.

Sadly, Sherman does not face felony charges due to an apparent loophole in Tennessee law and is now only facing possible misdemeanor convictions.

The Crank case certainly points out the need for Tennessee to follow the example of Colorado, which passed a law protecting children from the consequences of their parent’s religious choices, if those choices might lead to death.

Jessica Crank died in agony due to medical neglect. The 15-year-old girl had a cancer condition that produced a tumor the size of a basketball, but her mother’s involvement in an obscure religious group called “New Life Tabernacle” kept Jessica out of a hospital, where she might have been treated and suffered less.

Jessica’s mother Jacqueline Crank and their group leader Ariel Ben Sherman were subsequently charged with felony child abuse.

But the prosecutor made such a poor showing in court the felony charges were dismissed.

That prosecutor has since moved on and the District Attorney of Loudon County, Tennessee won’t say whether he was fired or quit, reports The Knoxville News.

Now the DA is preparing to present the case again, but this time before a grand jury. He hopes to reinstate felony charges against Crank and Sherman.

In Tennessee a choice for “faith healing” over proper medical care by a parent is still allowed by law.

However, Jessica’s mother initially brought her daughter to a clinic and consulted medical professionals before her ultimate decision to deny her proper care and treatment. This may preclude the mother’s protection under state law.

Will there finally be justice for the teenage girl who must have suffered excruciating pain before her tragic and untimely death?

Ariel Ben Sherman has a history of escaping child abuse charges. In the 1980s he eventually beat criminal charges for child abuse in Oregon.

Will Sherman, who claimed to be Jessica’s “spiritual father,” manage to avoid any legal responsibility this time?

Six more members of “God’s Creation Outreach Church” have been charged related to a child abuse investigation undertaken after the death of a nine-year-old boy, reports the Kansas City Star.

The boy’s parents and leaders of the church Neil and Christy Edgar, who gagged their son, which allegedly led to his death were previously charged.

Five other members of the Edgar church have now also been charged regarding the gross abuse of other children in the group, which is located in Kansas City, Kansas.

Horrific child abuse has often taken place within relatively obscure groups and churches. In such independently run and somtimes isolated organizations there is little if any meaningful accountability for the leaders and the minor children of members have no control over their lives.

Just last year alone groups such as the Nuwaubians, “The Body,” Four Winds Commune, House of Prayer, Order of Saint Charbel, Church of God Restoration, the Wright Family and New Life Tabernacle faced charges regarding the sexual and/or physical abuse of minor children.

In some groups children died due to medical neglect.

The treatment of children, within groups often called “cults,” is a scandal. Child protection services often respond too late or do too little to protect these innocents.

It should be understood that minor children are only in such groups because their parents have joined.

Children are often brought into “cults” like so much baggage and frequently endure a living hell. This may include brutal corporal punishment, substandard living conditions, malnutrition and/or medical neglect.

More official intervention is necessary if minor children, who are often little more than hostages in such groups, are to be protected. Religious and/or parental rights certainly do not include the doing anything without restriction in the “name of God.”

Ariel Ben Sherman the leader of a group called “New Life Tabernacle” now faces criminal charges due to medical neglect, allegedly caused through his influence. A 15-year-old girl with a tumor the size of a basketball did not receive proper medical attention, reported WBIR TV in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Additionally, according to an official report filed in court, children were physically abused within the sect’s compound. The group meted out extreme punishments such as hanging children bound with ropes from the ceiling for hours and dousing them with cold water in an empty pool for soiling themselves.

Again and again, cases have come to court in recent years involving the gross abuse of children in cults. But unlike their parents, children in cults never make a decision to join. Instead, they are brought in, often almost like so much baggage.

Though cult members may believe whatever they wish, they may not legally do whatever they want. And it seems this must especially apply to the protection of the most vulnerable members of any cult, which are its children. Religious freedom should not be invoked to offer child abusers immunity from prosecution.