Faith-healing couple found guilty of criminal mistreatment

Faith-healing couple found guilty of criminal mistreatment

OREGON CITY, Ore. - A couple who belongs to a church that believes in faith healing was found guilty of first-degree criminal mistreatment Tuesday after they didn’t get treatment for their infant girl who suffered from a grotesque growth on her eye.

It took the jury only 90 minutes to unanimously reach guilty verdicts for Tim and Rebecca Wyland. Prosecutors only needed 10 of 12 jurors to agree with them.

The Wylands, who are members of the Followers of Christ church which believes in prayer over modern medicine, each face up to five years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled about two and a half weeks from today.

The parents were found guilty of not getting their daughter, Alayna who is now 18 months old, treatment for a growth that overtook her left eye. That growth appeared shortly after her birth.

Both parents showed little emotion, and they barely moved when the verdicts were read. At one point Tim Wyland put his arm around his wife and they spoke quietly.

The Wylands had no comment after the verdict, continuing church members' pattern of almost complete silence toward outsiders.

During the trial, that lasted almost a week and a half, prosecutors argued parents have a legal responsibility to get sick and injured children to a doctor. They said the Wylands should have known their daughter was in trouble. Prosecutors worked to prove that Alayna would have ended up blind if she didn’t receive treatment.

The state took custody of the girl when she was 7 months old last summer and began immediately treating the growth. She is now doing much better and was released into the care of her parents who then continued treatment as prescribed by a doctor. But the doctor testified that even with surgery Alayna will probably have less than a 30-percent chance of regaining full vision in her left eye.

The defense charged that police and prosecutors rushed to judgment against the parents because they were members of the church. They also argued that doctors used a drug that was not approved for children to treat Alayna’s growth and that they gave her too much of it.

The jury never heard about the many other children who were members of the church that have died. That information is considered prejudicial. It's important because jurors in the Followers of Christ trial of Carl and Raylene Worthington said the fact they didn't know about the church’s history led to letting those parents off on the most serious charges in their daughter's death.