Subject: Baby in critical condition after dippings at baptism.
To: All From: Marty Leipzig Date: 9/15/96 12:23:46
By Scott Bowles, Washington Post
Houston Chronicle, Sunday, Sept. 15, 1996
WASHINGTON - A 4-month-old girl was in critical condition Saturday night after nearly drowning during a baptism at a Northeast Washington church last weekend, officials said.
The girl, identified by church officials as Sade Victoria Momatola of Landover, Md., suffered brain damage after being dunked three times into a baptismal tub last Sunday morning at the Imani Temple, said police and church leaders.
Archbishop George Agustus Stallings Jr., founder of the Imani Temple on Capital Hill, said Friday that the baptism occurred against the recommendations of the church, which requested that the baby, born three months prematurely, be sprinkled with water instead.
"The mother insisted that her daughter be fully baptized by immersion," Stallings said during a news conference at National Airport, where he was returning from a revival service in Detroit.
Police and church officials said the baptism occurred during Sunday's 11 am Mass at the church, which is in the 600 block of Maryland Avenue NE.
After Associate Pastor August Griffin preformed the ceremony, the mother, identified as Juanita Momatola, noticed blood streaming from her daughter's nose and said she feared that the baby was going into cardiac arrest, church officials said.
The baby has remained at Children's Hospital in critical condition since Sunday, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Griffin and Juanita Momatola could not be reached for comment. Church officials said Griffin has been suspended from preforming baptisms while they investigate.
Stallings said that Sade was born three months prematurely at Children's Hospital and that she had suffered complications from the birth. He said the infant remained hospitalized three months after her birth and was, in effect, "a 1-month old girl" when she was baptized.
"We were unaware of Sade Victoria's medical problems associated with her premature birth," Stallings said. Officials with Children's Hospital would not release details of the child's medical history.
Church officials said they will immerse infants but recommended against it. "I've never seen a child that young and that tiny get baptized," said an official with the Imani Temple. "The feeling of the church is that children should not be baptized until they are old enough to make that decision for themselves."
Origin: A Little Corner in Time BBS (1:106/113.0)
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From ........... The Associated Press
September 20, 1996
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A 4-month-old girl who nearly drowned earlier this month while she was being baptized at a breakaway Catholic church has died.
Sade Victoria Omotola has been on life support since Sept. 8 at Children's hospital, where she was rushed after blood began streaming from her nose and her face turned blue during the baptism ceremony.
She died Thursday. Authorities were waiting for autopsy results from the District of Columbia Medical Examiner's Office on the cause of death. Police spokesman Anthony Leary said it was being investigated by the city's homicide division.
Father August Griffin had immersed the baby's head three times into a baptismal tub during the ceremony at Imani Temple on Capitol Hill.
Temple Founder George Augustus Stallings expressed "deepest sympathy and spiritual support" for the girl's family in a statement Friday night but defended baptism by immersion as "sound and safe."
"The answer to infant Sade's dilemma is not in the method, but in her medical condition," Stallings said, noting that the child was born three months premature.
September 26, 1996
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The death last week of a 4-month-old girl following her baptism at a breakaway Catholic church was ruled a homicide Wednesday by the District of Columbia Medical Examiner's Office.
The finding means that the death of Sade Victoria Omotola will now be considered by the U.S. attorney's office and possibly a grand jury to determine if criminal charges should be brought, according to a police spokesman.
The infant had been on life support since Sept. 8th at Children's Hospital, where she was rushed after blood began streaming from her nose and her face turned blue during the ceremony at the Imani Temple on Capitol Hill. She died Sept. 20.
Father August Griffin had immersed the baby's head three times into a baptismal tub. Bishop George Stallings said in a written statement Wednesday that the temple was "deeply shocked" by the coroner's report but stands by the sect's practice of baptism by immersion.
He also said homicide is a medical term and should not necessarily be used to pinpoint fault.
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