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Unforgiving father sues over death of daughter
Kerry Williamson
Calgary Herald

As the second anniversary of the death of his daughter approaches, Lawrence Hughes says he will never forget.

And, it seems, he is still unable to forgive.

Hughes has launched a lawsuit against the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada, Edmonton's Cross Cancer Institute, two doctors and several Jehovah's Witnesses over the death of his daughter, Bethany Hughes.

He is seeking damages of $1 million.

"I have many reasons. I don't want my other two daughters to die because of this religion," he said Friday.

"And I don't want anyone else's children dying because of this religion. This lawsuit is for Bethany, and it's for all the other Bethanys in the world who need a blood transfusion."

Bethany, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in February 2002, died seven months later after refusing blood transfusions on religious grounds. She was 17.

Hughes claims his daughter would have lived if she had received transfusions. Bethany, a staunch Jehovah's Witness, underwent more than three dozen transfusions against her will after being made a ward of the state.

However, doctors decided she could not be saved and opted for palliative care. Her mother, Arliss Hughes, then took her to the Cross Cancer Institute for alternative treatment.

Lawrence Hughes -- who turned his back on his faith after his daughter was diagnosed with cancer -- claimed Bethany had been brainwashed by members of her family and faith. He fought to have Bethany undergo transfusions, but was unsuccessful.

"Given the pressures and influences brought to bear on Bethany by her mother and the Watch Tower Defendants, Bethany was incapable of coming to a free or informed choice on the matter of the consequences of her of refusing a blood transfusion . . . ," Hughes' statement of claim states.

David Gnam, the Ontario-based lawyer who acted for Bethany, dismissed Hughes' accusations, and said they would be fought in court.

"While Mr. Hughes is entitled to his day in court, he has already had that day when he raised the very same issues in the provincial court of Alberta, the Court of Queen's Bench, the Alberta Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada," said Gnam.

"Mr. Hughes is just recycling arguments he has already made and lost on. Now he's trying another tactic."

No date has been set for Hughes' lawsuit to be heard in court.


(c) The Calgary Herald 2004

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