Jeff and Marci Beagley were found guilty last year of failing to seek medical help for their 16-year-old son, Neil, who died in June 2008. The young man died of kidney failure after developing a urinary tract infection.
Category: Neil Jeffrey Beagley
Judge Steven Maurer sentenced Jeffrey and Marci Beagley to 16 months in prison this afternoon, calling the couple’s decision to not seek medical care for their 16-year-old son, Neil Beagley, a “crime that was a product of an unwillingness to respect the boundaries of freedom of religious expression.”
The Beagleys and Worthingtons are members of the Followers of Christ Church. Members of the Oregon City church have a lengthy history of child deaths from lack of medical care that influenced a 1999 law eliminating the religious freedom defense in cases involving the welfare of a child.
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.
Prosecutors said Neil Beagley’s fate was sealed when he was born. His undetected medical condition caused urine to back up into his body and eventually destroyed his kidneys. He also was born into a family that believed using medical doctors showed a lack of faith in God.
The key question facing jurors is this: What would a reasonable person have done?
Nearly two weeks of testimony ended Thursday in the trial of Jeffrey and Marci Beagley, who are charged with criminally negligent homicide for failing to provide medical care to their 16-year-old son. Neil Beagley died in June 2008 of complications from a congenital urinary blockage that had never been treated.
Jeff Beagley told an Oregon City jury Wednesday that despite staying home from work the June 2008 day his 16-year-old son died, spending the whole night before awake talking to Neil, carrying his ill son to the bathroom and family members coming to pray over Neil, he didn’t think Neil’s condition was bad enough that his life was in danger.
The family is part of the Oregon City-based Followers of Christ Church, which believes in faith healing and has seen more than 80 children laid to rest in its Oregon City church cemetery.
The defense in the faith-healing trial in the June 2008 death of 16-year-old Neil Beagley began its case Monday with a medical expert witness who said the teen’s symptoms weren’t necessarily so bad that a reasonable person would think he could have died.
Prosecutors won the right Wednesday to introduce evidence from a previous faith-healing death in the extended family of Jeffrey and Marci Beagley, whose teenage son died in June 2008 from an untreated medical condition.
The parents are member of a church that has left a trail of dead children in its wake.
How can teenage children make informed decisions if they’ve never been to a doctor, have no understanding of their condition and have been raised to reject medical treatment? Do children have the right to refuse medical care?
How much responsibility do parents have for the health of teenage children?
These questions may be answered when yet again two members of the Followers of Christ Church cult will stand trial in the death of a child