LOS ANGELES -- An herbalist who touted natural cures that helped him overcome cancer has been charged in the 2014 death of a 13-year-old diabetic boy who prosecutors said he treated with herbal oils instead of insulin. The suspect, 83-year-old Timothy Morrow, advised the victim's parents to treat their son with herbs instead of insulin just one day before his death, the Los Angeles city attorney's office told CBS Los Angeles.
Morrow was charged with practicing medicine without a license and child abuse causing a death, the Los Angeles city attorney said Wednesday. His lawyer said he disputes the charges.
Morrow, who described on his website how the voice of God led him to start using herbs for his prostate cancer, began treating the boy's Type 1 diabetes with herbs after meeting his mother at seminars Morrow conducted, City Attorney Mike Feuer said.
When the boy became sick and semi-comatose in August 2014, Morrow told the parents not to give the boy insulin, but to use herbal oils he was selling, Feuer said.
The boy identified in court papers as Edgar L. died the next day. The medical examiner determined the boy would have survived if he received proper medical care.
"The allegations in this case underscore the serious health and safety risks of taking medical advice from someone who lacks a license and the proper training that goes with it," Feuer said in a statement. "No family should have to suffer the tragedy of losing a child because of irresponsible, un-credentialed medical advice."
A defense lawyer said Morrow had nothing to do with the boy's death and is not guilty of the charges.
"He's never been in trouble in his life," attorney Sanford Perliss said. "He really has a lifetime of helping people."
According to CBS Los Angeles, Morrow refers to himself as a "master herbalist/iridologist", according to his website, Common Sense Herbal Products. The company is headquartered in Torrance, a suburb of L.A.
The Los Angeles district attorney declined to bring felony charges and referred the case to the city attorney, a spokesman said.
Perliss pointed out that in the three years since the boy's death, there has been no attempt to take away Morrow's business license, no agency has tried to shut him down and the parents of the boy have not sued him.
"No one did anything to indicate he was doing anything wrong," Perliss said.
Morrow faces up to two years in jail if convicted of the misdemeanors. He's due in Los Angeles Superior Court for arraignment March 27.
Anyone with information on Morrow's activities should call the city attorney's office at 213-978-8070.