Oregon Couple Convicted In Faith-Healing Trial

After just an hour of deliberation, Oregon jurors on June 7 unanimously found two members of a faith-healing church guilty of felony criminal mistreatment for not seeking medical care for their daughter.

Timothy and Rebecca Wyland face up to five years in prison but are likely to receive probation and possibly some time in jail.

The couple's daughter, Alayna, was born in December 2009 with a birthmark above her left eye that developed into an abnormal growth of blood vessels, known as a hemangioma. As the growth slowly engulfed her left eye, the Wylands never consulted a doctor.

The case is the latest involving members of Oregon City's Followers of Christ church, which considers medical treatment a rejection of religious faith. The Wylands are the third church couple to be prosecuted over the past two years for failing to provide medical treatment to their children.

In the two previous cases, the children died. In the Wyland case, 18-month-old Alayna has improved under court-ordered medical care.

In her closing argument, lead prosecutor Christine Landers dismissed the defense attorneys' efforts to portray the Wylands as victims of overly aggressive child-welfare workers who snatched their daughter and persecuted the couple for their religious beliefs.

Landers called the defense a smokescreen intended to obscure the facts and distract jurors. The couple had six and a half months to seek medical attention for Alayna and they did not, she noted.

"They never would have. The reason why ... is because of their faith," she said.

Under Oregon law, a parent or guardian has committed first-degree criminal mistreatment if that person "intentionally or knowingly withholds ... medical attention." (RNS)