Wylands get 90 days each
On Friday, June 24, Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey S. Jones sentenced Timothy and Rebecca Wyland of Oregon City to 90 days in jail for child neglect.
Earlier this month, a jury found them guilty of first-degree criminal mistreatment for failing to provide medical care for their infant daughter who was nearly blinded by an abnormal growth of blood vessels engulfing her left eye.
Timothy Wyland was taken into custody to serve the maximum time allowed immediately after the court proceedings Friday morning. Rebecca Wyland will begin her 90-day term on the day her husband is released.
The Wylands belong to Oregon City's Followers of Christ Church, which embraces faith healing and rejects medical care. Children of church members have died in previous cases, but the Wylands' 18-month-old Alayna recovered after the court ordered medical care and foster parents through the Oregon Department of Human Services.
Attorneys for the Wylands listed a series of reasons for the judge to delay sentencing or pronounce a lighter sentence.
• The family should be kept together if possible.
• The judge should wait til the child's prognosis is certain before delivering a verdict.
• The judge should wait 15 years, until the child turns 18 and can testify as an adult, before delivering a verdict.
• The Wylands had the best intentions for their child, and parents know what is right for their child.
• Rebecca Wyland followed the instructions of medical professionals after they had been mandated and helped administer appropriate treatment after that time.
• The Wylands believe in the strict principles of the Bible that a wife should obey her husband, so Rebecca is not as culpable as her husband.
• Timothy could lose his job with a felony conviction; Rebecca's felony conviction would bar her from volunteering at public schools.
Jones rejected these arguments, noting that Oregon law makes the mother just as culpable in mistreatment of a child as the father. The judge also noted that doctors expect Alayna to suffer from disfiguring scars and depth-perception problems throughout her life.
'Prayer should complement, but not compete with, proper medical care,' Jones said.
The Wylands must also notify officials within 72 hours after the birth (or adoption) of any additional children. As another condition of their probation, they must follow instructions from court-designated physicians and, if they use faith healing on their children in the future, let physicians know why they feel techniques such as laying on of hands, fasting, or anointing of oils are necessary.
Jeffrey and Marci Beagley, an Oregon City couple convicted in the faith-healing death of their 16-year-old son in 2008, completed a 16-month prison term this spring. Also this spring, the Oregon Legislature voted to end legal protections for those who practice faith healing.
Another pending case involves the accusation of second-degree manslaughter against Shannon and Dale Hickman, members of Followers of Christ whose son was born prematurely and died nine hours later. The Hickmans are scheduled to go to trial Sept. 8.