A Clackamas County jury found Jeffrey and Marci Beagley guilty today of criminally negligent homicide for failing to seek medical care for their 16-year-old son Neil Beagley.
Instead of taking their son to a doctor when he became ill, the Beagleys treated him with faith healing – prayer, anointing with oil and laying on of hands.
The Beagleys could face a maximum of 10 years in prison. Because the two have no prior convictions, the normal sentencing range under state sentencing guidelines would be 16 to 18 months in prison.
The Beagleys are the first Oregon parents convicted of homicide in the faith-healing death of a child since the state legislature eliminated spiritual treatment as a defense in such cases in 1999. Legislators cracked down on faith healing due in large part to a history of child deaths associated with the Beagleys’ Oregon City congregation, the Followers of Christ church.
In July 2009, the Beagleys’ son-in-law, Carl Brent Worthington, was found guilty on a lesser charge – criminal mistreatment – for failing to provide medical care to his 15-month-old daughter, Ava Worthington. Raylene Worthington, the child’s mother, was acquitted on all charges.
Ava Worthington died about four months before Neil Beagley, also after marathon faith-healing sessions.