October 2, 2014

Medina
Mostly clear
54°F

Judge unsure about authority in Amish girl cancer case

A Medina County judge said Monday he’s not sure he has the jurisdiction to accept the resignation of a guardian he appointed to make medical decisions about cancer treatment for an 11-year-old Amish girl.

In a journal entry, Probate Judge Kevin W. Dunn said jurisdiction may be in question because attorneys have appealed the case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

“The court is not convinced it retains the authority to entertain the resignation filed by the limited guardian,” Dunn wrote.

John Oberholtzer, attorney for the Amish family, also has filed a motion to withdraw from the case.

Dunn ordered attorneys representing both sides to file briefs detailing similar jurisdictional issues.

The “limited guardian,” Maria Schimer, was appointed in October following a back-and-forth legal battle between Akron Children’s Hospital and the girl’s parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, of Homer Township.

The Hershbergers took their daughter, Sarah, to Akron Children’s Hospital in April to seek treatment.

They at first accepted chemotherapy, according to court records, but later stopped treatments after seeing the side effects.

The hospital sued in probate court to get Schimer appointed as guardian. The case bounced between probate and appeals courts until October, when the 9th District Court of Appeals ordered Dunn to appoint Schimer as guardian.

The family has not been seen by authorities since at least October.

Schimer filed her resignation earlier this month, saying the family clearly didn’t want her help and that it may be too late to aid the girl.

Clair Dickinson, an attorney for Schimer, has said the family says Sarah is cancer-free as a result of natural treatments, including vitamins and herbs.

Physicians said the girl hasn’t had chemotherapy since at least June, and have said she would die within a year without treatments.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.