The defense rested today in the faith-healing trial of Timothy and Rebecca Wyland after bringing a doctor to the stand who praised the Wylands’ compliance with court-ordered medical care for their infant daughter, Alayna.
The final witness for the defense, Oregon City pediatrician Jo Anne Nielsen, testified this morning that the Wylands were “very compliant” and followed court orders to administer medication and attend medical appointments. “You can tell they really care about their child,” Nielsen said.
The Wylands belong to the Followers of Christ church, which embraces faith healing and rejects medical care. Before child-protection workers intervened, they treated their daughter with prayer, anointed her with oil and used other spiritual rituals endorsed by their church. They are charged with first-degree criminal mistreatment, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, for failing to take her to a doctor.
Alayna had a large growth, called a hemangioma, that engulfed her left eye, leaving her on the verge of blindness in the eye. Her condition has since improved.
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Last month the Oregon Senate joined the House in passing a measure sparked by the Followers of Christ Church deaths.
Under current law, spiritual treatment can be used as a defense against some charges. House Bill 2721 would eliminate those defenses and parents choosing faith healing over medical treatment for a child who dies could face tough mandatory sentences. It is expected that the bill will quickly be signed into law.