Worthingtons acquitted on all but one charge in faith-healing death
A jury today found Carl Worthington guilty of criminal mistreatment in the death of his 15-month-old daughter, the first conviction under a 1999 state law passed to protect the children of parents who believe in treating illness solely with faith healing.
Carl and Raylene Worthington were acquitted of all other charges.
Carl Worthington, 29, and Raylene Worthington, 26, had both been charged with second-degree manslughter and criminal mistreatment.
The criminal mistreatment charge carries a sentence of up to one year in jail.
After hearing 12 days of testimony from 21 witnesses, it took the jury more than a week to reach a decision.
The Worthingtons’ daughter Ava died last year of bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection. Prosecutors said they could have saved their daughter’s life if they had sought medical attention. Instead, they and members of their Oregon City church, the Followers of Christ, attempted to heal her with prayer, fasting, anointing of oil and laying on of hands.
Jurors announced the verdict Thursday afternoon in a Clackamas County Circuit Courtroom crowded with members of the Worthingtons’ congregation, the Followers of Christ Church.
Of the dozens of children buried in the Followers of Christ cemetery since the 1950s, at least 21 died from medically treatable conditions, according to a 1998 investigation by The Oregonian.
But the Worthingtons were the first members of their church to be prosecuted for failing to provide adequate medical care to their children.
Ava Pauline Worthington died at her parents home on March 2, 2008, surrounded by up to 200 family and friends who conducted faith-healing sessions in the days and hours preceding her death.
Theologically, the Followers of Christ church is a cult of Christianity. It’s extreme stance on faith healing is unbiblical, and places the church outside the boundaries of the Christian faith. Sociologically the church should also be considered a destructive cult, as its practices are harmful to its followers and/or their dependents.