Case against pastor in granddaughter's death dismissed again

Berks DA undecided on filing charge a 3rd time

READING, Pa. - The case against a church pastor charged in connection with the death of his 2-year-old granddaughter has again been dismissed.

The Rev. Rowland George Foster, whose church rejects modern medicine, has been accused of failing to report suspected abuse before the girl died of pneumonia on November 8, 2016.

For the second time, however, a judge determined that there's not enough evidence to support allegations that Foster, in his role as a mandatory reporter, broke state law by not alerting authorities to an incident of child abuse.

The girl's parents, Jonathan and Grace Foster, are accused of failing to seek medical treatment for their daughter before her death inside the family's home in Upper Tulpehocken Township.

The Fosters told investigators that, because of their religion as members of Faith Tabernacle Church in Lebanon, they believe in the power of prayer over medicine and doctors.

Rowland Foster told investigators that he observed Ella Grace Foster just prior to her death and said that she was not talking much and "sounded sick."

At the time of her death, authorities said Ella would have had extreme difficulty breathing and a fever of around 104 degrees. They said the girl almost certainly would have survived had she been given a simple course of antibiotics.

All pastors have a duty to report abuse, said Berks County District Attorney John Adams, who initially charged Rowland Foster in March and then charged him again in May, after the first dismissal.

Adams told 69 News on Tuesday that his office has not decided whether to charge Foster a third time.

Jonathan and Grace Foster are awaiting trial on involuntary manslaughter charges. The couple have surrendered their six other children to child services.

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