Oregon Couple Charged in Daughter's Faith-Healing Death

A grand jury indicted an Oregon City couple accused of failing to seek medical treatment for their gravely ill daughter who died this month.

Carl Worthington, 28, and Raylene Worthington, 25, surrendered late Friday to face charges of manslaughter and criminal mistreatment, said Detective Jim Strovink of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.

They were held on $250,000 bail each and their first court appearance was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

The couple's daughter, 15-month-old Ava, died at home March 2 from bacterial bronchial pneumonia and infection. A deputy state medical examiner said Ava's medical problems were treatable with antibiotics.

The Worthingtons belong to Oregon City's Followers of Christ Church. According to church tradition, when members become ill, fellow worshippers pray and anoint them with oil.

Dozens of children have been buried in the parish cemetery over the past 50 years, and a 1998 analysis by The Oregonian newspaper found that many of the deaths could have prevented with medical care.

The 1999 Oregon Legislature eliminated the state's "spiritual-healing defense" in cases of second-degree manslaughter, first- and second-degree criminal mistreatment and nonpayment of child support. Legislators were prompted by the death of 11-year-old Oregon City boy whose diabetes was left untreated. His parents were members of the Followers of Christ Church.