OREGON CITY, Ore. (RNS) Two faith-healing parents pleaded with child-welfare workers for permission to take their infant daughter to a doctor and keep her out of state custody, defense attorneys said Tuesday (May 31).
The Oregon Department of Human Services refused the request and, on June 29, 2010, brought the young girl to a hospital, where she was treated for a growth on her eye that left her on the verge of blindness. A doctor who examined the girl said she suffered from medical neglect.
The DHS response was the focus of testimony Tuesday in the case of the parents, Timothy and Rebecca Wyland, who are charged with first-degree criminal mistreatment for failing to provide medical care for their daughter, Alayna.
The Wylands are members of the Followers of Christ, an Oregon City faith-healing church that has seen scores of deaths involving children who were denied traditional medical care.
Defense attorneys maintain that DHS took custody of the girl under the guise that she needed emergency medical care, and refused to allow the Wylands to take her to a doctor on their own. Before the girl saw treating physicians, defense attorneys contend she was first evaluated by pediatricians who specialize in child abuse.
Defense attorneys argue the Wylands are the victims of an overly aggressive bureaucracy that snatched their daughter. Attorneys also raised the issue of religious discrimination, saying DHS reports seem to target the couple for their church affiliation.
DHS caseworker John Faber testified that he was aware that the Wylands belonged to the church but denied that their religion was the reason Alayna was taken from their home.
(Steve Mayes writes for The Oregonian in Portland, Ore.)