Church sued over daughter's death

Sat, August 28, 2004

A CALGARY father who claims the Jehovah's Witnesses contributed to his daughter's death by encouraging her to avoid life-saving blood transfusions filed a lawsuit against the organization yesterday. "The Jehovah's Witness church stole away my family, friends and 20 years of my life," Lawrence Hughes said outside Calgary's Court of Queen's Bench, where he filed the lawsuit. "I paid a high price to give my daughter a chance to live.

"This lawsuit is for Bethany, and if Bethany's listening, I want her to know I love her," he said as he choked back tears.

Bethany Hughes, 17, died on Sept. 5, 2002. Seven months earlier she had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of blood cancer.

In his statement of claim, Hughes says his former wife, Arliss Hughes, and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society -- the organization that represents the Jehovah's Witness religion -- "overtly influenced Bethany to believe that blood transfusions were wrong and would not help cure her cancer."