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Courthouse Protest
Dad blames church for death of teen

Jehovah's Witnesses try to have lawsuit thrown out.

Dad claims 'conspiracy' in daughter's death.

Daryl Slade

Calgary Herald

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

CREDIT: Dean Bicknell, Calgary Herald

Lawrence Hughes, whose daughter died of leukemia following a dispute over blood transfusions, joins a protest against Jehovah's Witnesses outside the downtown courthouse on Tuesday. Hughes is suing the religious group and others for $1 million over the death of his daughter, Bethany, in 2002. The court case was adjourned for a later date for a hearing.

A half-dozen protesters picketed in front of Court of Queen's Bench on Tuesday to support a Calgary man who has sued the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada and others for being responsible for his daughter's death.

Inside the court, a hearing by the society, Edmonton 's Cross Cancer Institute, two doctors and several Jehovah's Witnesses to have Lawrence Hughes' $1-million statement of claim quashed was eventually adjourned.

Lawyers will be back in court today to set a new date for the hearing.

"I believe the evidence I have will prove there was a conspiracy that brought about the death of my daughter," Hughes said outside court.

" Bethany was given medical treatment for a disease she did not have. I believe evidence will prove criminal negligence."

Bethany Hughes, 17, died Sept. 5, 2002, less than six months after she underwent a series of blood transfusions against her wishes after Alberta Children's Services took custody of her when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

Hughes also accused the Watch Tower Society of protecting pedophiles in its fellowship; forcing its members to work in "slavery," without being paid, then turned onto the streets when old; and giving out bad medical advice to its members.

In particular, Hughes, once a Jehovah's Witness who split from the religion and his family over the medical beliefs, cited the group refusing vaccinations, organ transplants and blood transfusions for members, that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of adults and children in the past 100 years.

Allan Ludkiewicz , the Winnipeg lawyer for the Watch Tower Society fighting Hughes' lawsuit, could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

But after a similar protest last week at the society's Canadian headquarters for Jehovah's Witnesses in Georgetown , Ont., a spokesman denied Hughes' blanket claims.

Mark Ruge , director of public relations for the organization, said they had not yet been served with the lawsuit filed in August.

He told reporters that Hughes "can say whatever he wants," but there was no truth to the claims.

"We're not that kind of people," he added, calling the claims "outrageous."

Hughes said he now has his daughter's medical records to prove his case.

"I believe the Watch Tower Society was afraid because Bethany's health was improving and she may be forced to be given blood transfusions, so that's why they hid her away for the last two months," said the father.

"It makes me sick to think Bethany could be alive today if they had given her proper medical treatment."

(c) The Calgary Herald 2004

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