OREGON CITY, Ore. – An Oregon couple has been sentenced to 90 days in jail after being convicted of criminal mistreatment for failing to seek medical care for their infant daughter for a growth that could have left her blind in one eye.
Timothy and Rebecca Wyland, of Oregon City, are members of the Followers of Christ Church, which practices faith healing and rejects doctors. They are the fourth and fifth members of the church to be convicted in the past two years of crimes involving medical neglect of children. Another case is pending.
Clackamas County Circuit Judge Jeffrey S. Jones also sentenced the Wylands to three years of probation and required them to provide medical care for their daughter, Alayna, now 18 months old.
"Your prayers should complement — not compete — with proper medical care," Jones told the parents Friday at their sentencing hearing in Oregon City.
The judge staggered their sentences, ordering Timothy Wyland into custody immediately. When he is released, Rebecca Wyland will start her term.
A restitution hearing is set for Aug. 29.
A Clackamas County jury convicted the Wylands of criminal mistreatment earlier this month. The conviction carries a possible sentence of up to five years in prison, but guidelines called for a maximum of 90 days in jail for the Wylands because they have no previous convictions.
During early infancy, Alayna developed a growth called a hemangioma above her left eye that eventually covered and engulfed the eye, leaving her on the verge of blindness. She has since improved under court-ordered care and remains under state supervision, placed with her parents.
Doctors who testified said the girl's condition easily could have been controlled with medication. The growth would have posed no threat to the eye if Alayna had been taken to a doctor when it first appeared.
The Wylands said they believed it was a "strawberry birthmark" that would eventually go away. They based their conclusion on assurances from other church members and strangers they met at grocery stores and restaurants.
The cost of the girl's medical care was covered by Oregon taxpayers through the Oregon Health Plan.