Jury Convicts Faith-Healing Parents In Oregon

An Oregon couple was found guilty Feb. 2 for the death of their 16-year-old son after they failed to provide medical care that could have saved his life.

Jeff and Marci Beagley are members of the Followers of Christ Church, which believes in faith healing and avoids doctors. Their son died in June 2008 from a congenital urinary tract blockage that doctors say could have been successfully treated. The Beagleys, who reside in Oregon City, failed to seek medical treatment but prayed for their son to heal.

This is the second child death in the Beagley family. In another case, the Beagleys’ daughter was acquitted of manslaughter after her 15-month-old daughter died of pneumonia and a blood infection. Her husband, however, was convicted of criminal mistreatment.

Oregon allows non-unanimous verdicts in some cases, and the jury voted 10-2 to convict the Beagleys of criminally negligent homicide. Their sentence was pending as Church & State went to press. Because the couple does not have prior criminal histories, state sentencing guidelines call for 16 to 18 months in prison, although the judge has the leeway to lengthen or reduce the sentence.