Family members of a faith-healing couple accused of neglecting their baby girl’s medical needs defended them in court Thursday.
Relatives on Thursday described Timothy and Rebecca Wyland as ideal parents devoted to their daughter, Alayna, and said they did not believe a growth that eventually covered the girl’s eye posed a medical risk.
Jamie and Gary Crone, Timothy Wyland’s sister and brother-in-law, testified for the defense Thursday during the fourth day of the couple’s trial in Clackamas County Circuit Court.
The Wylands are charged with first-degree criminal mistreatment for failing to provide medical care to Alayna, now 17 months old. State child-welfare workers took custody of the girl in July to treat the growth, called a hemangioma, that covered her left eye and spread into her eye socket. Doctors testified that the expanding mass was threatening her eyesight.
The Wylands and Crones belong to the Followers of Christ, an Oregon City church that relies on faith healing and rejects medical care.
The Followers of Christ Church is, theologically, a cult of Christianity. Sociologically it has cult-like elements as well. The church’s extreme faith healing beliefs and practices have left a trail of dead children in its wake.
Crone testified he was at the Wyland’s home when a DHS case worker briefly examined Alayna and then told her parents he was taking custody of their daughter.
DHS opened a case on Alayna after an anonymous caller reported a growing red mark on her left eye.
Crone told jurors Tim Wyland repeatedly offered to take the baby to the hospital but Clackamas County deputies and DHS would not listen.
“He just said, ‘Can’t we take her? I would like to take her. I mean, we’ll take her. €¦ The tall cop said, ‘No.’ And Tim said, ‘How come?’ And he said, ‘Because you go to that church. €¦ He (Wyland) said, ‘Yeah, but we can take her.’ And he said, ‘No, we know how you believe.'”
Those statements, however, contradict what court records say about deputies’ conversations with Tim Wyland. Deputies reported he said he would never take Alayna to a doctor even if she had a life-threatening injury.
Under cross-examination Crone admitted he has never taken either of his two children to doctors. […]
The Crones also testified the choice of using medicine instead of prayer is left up to each individual church member, which is a direct contradiction to what other members have told KATU News. Those members say they were shunned by the church and other followers if they dared to see a doctor.
Under questioning Garrett Crone denied that the church dictates to members not to see a doctor and that the church punishes those who do.
Meanwhile the Associated Press reports that Dr. Thomas Valvano, a pediatric child abuse expert, testified on Wednesday that the Wylands:
told him they would not seek medical treatment for the child, even if she faced death. […]
Valvano said the couple cited their religious convictions as the reason for their stance.
Former Follower of Christ church member’s advice: ‘Just leave’
Former member of church calls group a cult
Research resources on faith healing