The parents are the first to be tried since law prohibiting religion defense
The parents of a 15-month old girl who died in Oregon City two weeks ago will be the first test of parental neglect in the death of a child since the state legislature in 1999 passed a law prohibiting the use of religion as a defense for not seeking basic medical treatment.
On Monday afternoon, Carl Brent Worthington, 28, and Raylene Worthington, 25, pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter and second-degree criminal mistreatment. Their trial date is set for June 17.
Both turned themselves in Friday night to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. They were taken to the Clackamas County Jail, according to the sheriff's office, but were no longer held there as of Monday morning.
The state medical examiner determined that Ava Worthington died of bronchial pneumonia and sepsis.
Christopher Young, of the medical examiner's office, said those two conditions, along with a cyst that had formed in her neck, were treatable and created a synergistic effect, that the things added up and the combination was worse than each of the individual elements.
Sepsis is caused by the body's response to a bacterial infection, and so may have originated from Worthington's pneumonia. But Worthington's ability to fight the pneumonia was complicated by the cyst.
'The cyst was compressing on the esophagus, and so coughing is one of the body's defenses,' Young said. 'So the cyst was compromising her ability to try and clear things from the lungs.'
Young said all of the ailments are very easy to treat.
He said it requires 'simple antibiotics for infections, and as far as the cyst, it was a benign mass, so simple surgery or something just as simple as draining that temporarily' could have helped prevent the child's death, he said.
The Worthingtons are part of Oregon City's Followers of Faith church, which practices 'faith healing' through the application of oils and through prayer.
The church came under scrutiny in the late 1990s when a string of children died from treatable illnesses, which led to the legislature's revision of the law.