100M Verdict Against Faith Healing Cult in Wrongful Death Suit
A fourth person named in the lawsuit settled with the family out-of-court.
According to court testimony, the Horner’s and Leather were part of a church created by John Horner, who believes himself to be an “apostle” and who preached that prayer will heal physical ailments, not modern medicine.
“You can believe whatever you want that’s the great thing about this country — but you can’t manipulate people, you can’t brain wash people,” said Danny Thomas, attorney for Misty Horner’s parents, Gail and Darrell Mansfield.
According to investigators, Caleb Horner performed an emergency episiotomy on Misty Horner with a pair of scissors as the baby, named Sydney, was born dead and in a breach position. Investigators say that Misty Horner was septic and suffering from a terrible infection.
Misty Horner’s parents say that they were kept away from their daughter, but when they finally saw her she was clearly dying. They asked Caleb Horner to take their daughter to the hospital, but they say he refused, calling the situation “God’s will.”
Witnesses say that at one point, Misty Horner put her clothes on to go to the hospital, but was convinced that she just needed to believe in God’s healing power.
Misty Horner’s best friend, Tina Moore, testified that their religion required Misty Horner to be submissive to her husband at all times. In December 2006, Misty went into labor. According to Moore, Caleb Horner hired two midwives who were unqualified to deliver a baby, as Moore said they asked her to look up information in guide books.
During her testimony, Moore said Caleb Horner blamed the baby’s death on his wife’s family, calling it “generational sin” and that it was God’s way of punishing them.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Moore after the verdict was announced on Friday. “I’m happy they will be accountable on some level. We’ll never see the full justice because they deserve to be in jail, but it feels good they lost something.”