Mother Charged in 'Rebirthing' Death

Excite News, Reuters/May 26, 2000

GOLDEN, Colo. (Reuters) - A North Carolina mother who watched her 10-year-old daughter struggling for breath during a "rebirthing" psychotherapy session has been charged with child abuse resulting in death, officials said.

Jeane Newmaker, 46, was the fifth person charged in last month's death of Candace Newmaker, who was swathed in a blanket in a procedure meant to simulate leaving the womb again. It is intended to improve children's relationships with their parents.

Newmaker, who adopted the girl in 1996, was in the room during the first part of the procedure and then watched the rest in a nearby room on closed-circuit TV.

Newmaker was charged Wednesday with one count of criminally negligent child abuse resulting in death, which carries a prison sentence of 4-16 years, the Jefferson County District Attorney's office said.

Four other people who conducted the procedure and who were formally charged on Tuesday with reckless child abuse resulting in death could be sent to prison for up to 48 years if they are convicted.

Denver clinical psychologist Albert Magliolo said charging the mother may be more of a "social statement" because "you go to an expert who will take the responsibility for you."

The desperate mother had sought other traditional therapy for the girl with no success when she turned to Connell Watkins who operated a counseling center out of her Evergreen, Colo. home.

During the procedure large pillows were placed around the girl and counselors then pressed in on the pillows to simulate contractions and to motivate the girl to push out of the blanket through a twisted end at the top of her head.

The child lost consciousness during the procedure and died the next day in a hospital.

Mental health professionals have said "rebirthing" was not an appropriate treatment.

Newmaker was released on a $5,000 bond, and ordered to appear in court on Sept. 6, the district attorney's office said.

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