A famous naturopath from Australia has been sentenced to 14 months in prison after a child she was treating nearly died of malnourishment. Marilyn Bodnar had instructed the boy’s mother to place him on a raw food diet to help with his eczema, but the judge presiding over the case said that “the advice given by Marilyn Bodnar almost led to the child's death.”
Initially, the 62-year-old naturopath instructed the woman to try out the raw food diet, but afterwards also instructed her to try out a water-only diet. According to court documents she had told the boy’s mother,
“Are you 100 percent raw? You have to be 100 percent raw if you want to see your son heal.”
She has since been instructed by the court to not work with any children, nor is she allowed to instruct any adult on how to treat a child. But that hasn’t stopped her website from offering discounts for under-12s and from reporters catching her holding seminars with parents and children attending.
Speaking to the court the prosecutor slammed Bodnar’s actions, saying,
“The failure to provide the necessities of life is a blind allegiance to her own ideology.
“This blind allegiance was the cause of the child nearly dying and ignoring the warning signs of the loss of weight.
“She was aware of the child's loss of weight but continued with the treatment.”
Bodnar has also been accused of placing her ideology above the good of her patients when in 1988 her friend, Narelle Neimann, died while staying at Bodnar’s residence. She had been on a water diet for 60 days at the time of her death and died as a consequence of malnourishment.
Meanwhile Bodnar’s defence attorney argued that the boy’s mother was a midwife and had taken the boy to see a doctor twice during the time of his treatment, so the onus of responsibility did not end with Bodnar. He also highlighted how she had been exposed to a significant amount of media attention, and that she had been brutally bullied online via social media as a consequence of the trial.
“She feels crushed. She has been punished,” he said.
Both Bodnar and the boy’s mother, who has not been named in court, pled guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life for her child. The mother received a suspended 14-month sentence, while Bodnar will be expected to serve prison time.