Oregon faith-healing parents put their daughter at risk of blindness; themselves at risk of prosecution.

Timothy and Rebecca Wyland are strong in their faith that God will heal if you just ask him to. When their months-old baby developed a hemangioma over her left eye they didn’t bother to seek out medical attention for the child, but busted out the oil and started praying.

Now they could be charged with a Class C felony under Oregon law:

The Wylands were indicted within the past few days and probably will be arraigned next week, said Colleen Gilmartin, the deputy district attorney handling the custody case in juvenile court.

Under Oregon law, it is a crime for parents to intentionally and knowingly withhold necessary and adequate medical attention from their children. First-degree criminal mistreatment is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Some of you may be wondering just what a hemangioma is. Here is its Wikipedia entry:

A hemangioma of infancy (or haemangioma of infancy) is a benign self-involuting tumor of endothelial cells (the cells that line blood vessels). In most cases it appears during the first days or weeks of life and will have resolved at the latest by age 10. In infancy, it is the most common tumor.

[…] Hemangiomas are the most common childhood tumor, occurring in approximately ten percent of Caucasians, and are less prevalent in other races. Females are three to five times as likely to have hemangiomas as males. Hemangiomas are also more common in twin pregnancies. Approximately 80% are located on the face and neck, with the next most prevalent location being the liver.

So it’s not an uncommon thing for a child to experience and most of the time it’ll clear up on its own, but every now and then there are complications that require medical intervention. If left untreated it can get progressively worse:

Alayna had a small mark over her left eye at birth.

The area started swelling, and the fast-growing mass of blood vessels, known as a hemangioma, eventually caused her eye to swell shut and pushed the eyeball down and outward and started eroding the eye socket bone around the eye.

It’s rare to see a child with an advanced hemangioma because the condition typically is treated as soon as it’s detected, said a doctor who testified at a hearing before Van Dyk last week.

“They never get this large,” said Dr. Thomas Valvano, a pediatrician at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. “This was medical neglect.”

Investigators who interviewed the Wylands noted the grotesque swelling that led DHS to act.

“Alayna’s left eyeball was completely obstructed, and you could not see any of it. The growth was multiple shades of red and maroon and appeared to me to be between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball,” said Clackamas County Detective Christie Fryett in a search warrant affidavit that included pictures of the growth on Alayna’s face.

Depending on how much damaged has been done to her left eye the child may very well be blind from this point on. All because her parents thought their faith was more than enough to cure her of her condition.

What’s really amazing about this is the fact that several people involved in this case agree that the child should be returned to her parents:

The Wylands’ attorneys, John Neidig  and Thurl Stalnaker Jr., offered a plan they said would guarantee the child would receive medical care recommended by doctors, with options such as regular visits from state workers, having a trusted individual occupy the Wyland home and monitoring the family with Skype, an Internet program used for video conferencing.

Attorney Michael Clancy, who represents Alayna, also urged that the girl be sent home.

Clancy, however, was skeptical that prosecutors or child-protection authorities would accept any plan to quickly reunite the family.

“There is no plan, even if we came up with 100 pages of stuff … that is going to be satisfactory,” he said.

Clackamas County Circuit Judge Douglas Van Dyk noted that doctors treating Alayna haven’t reviewed the Wylands’ plan and said he wouldn’t approve the proposal without hearing from the physicians.

But Van Dyk also said Alayna should be returned home once a plan is in place “that makes the community feel secure about the care.”

He told all the attorneys to submit their proposals to him next week and said he would work out a suitable agreement at a July 30 hearing.

“That’s where this case is going as far as this judge is concerned,” Van Dyk said.

But as it turns out, Oregon law may make that difficult:

Prosecutors said that a child usually is not returned to parents accused of criminal mistreatment. It is not clear whether the district attorney’s office will seek a no-contact order or if one would be granted.

Gilmartin, doctors and DHS workers want assurances that Alayna will get treatment that will minimize damage to her eye and address any complications that arise.

The icing on this faith-based bit of lunacy? The father, Timothy Wyland, is 44 and the mother, Rebecca Wyland, is 23. Oh, and this is his second wife. His first wife died in 2006 of breast cancer:

She had not sought or received medical treatment for the condition, said Dr. Christopher Young, a deputy state medical examiner who signed the death certificate.

Too much faith will make you crazy.

7 thoughts on “Oregon faith-healing parents put their daughter at risk of blindness; themselves at risk of prosecution.

  1. Ok, I can understand if you want to pray to God to heal yourself or even your kids or whatever…what I don’t get is why all these people are so against any intervention. What is wrong with letting Dr’s do their job and then praying to God to help the Dr’s do their job? I will NEVER understand that. I will never understand making someone suffer because of a passage in some outdated book from a time that didn’t have medical treatment to begin with.

  2. There are so many of these cases, which Les often posts. You would wish that this family could be shown all of the examples of other families that rely on faith and prayer exclusively and how they never get the desired result. But I suppose they will merely accuse those other families of not having enough faith.

    Of course, eventually one of these families will have a child who is either misdiagnosed or whose problem goes away on its own… then that family will attribute the recovery to prayer and to God and will brag about how they didn’t need some secular doctor. Then the “lamestream media” will cover that “miracle” and we will get more cases like this.

  3. We need to somehow get public prosecutors and the local DA offices to go after televangelist healers and people like Lisa Williams and James Van Praagh, etc. A nice series of religious healers getting arrested for not being able to demonstrate faith healing would be nice and might actually catch some people before they fall prey to that sort of thing.

  4. I live in Portland and have been following this cult’s activities for years. The real heroes of this story are the District Attorneys of Clackamas County (Oregon City) and Multnomah County (Portland). They have been working tirelessly for more than a decade to help pass legislation to prosecute these criminals.
    Once the laws were in place, these prosecuters enlisted the help of the Police and Family Services to form a small group of informants from inside the Followers Of Christ Church. In the past two years, the negligent parents have been reported to the Police and were arrested under these recently passed laws. I am writing about the last two cases where the children died. The prosecuters then found that juries were quite willing to find these defendants guilty. Everything seemed to be working.
    Then the judges, using a religious exemption for sentencing, gave the parents a few months in prison, or no prison time. The crimes carry a maximum penalty of six years (light, in my opinion).
    It appears we still have some work to do to overcome the insidious and pervasive influence of religion in our state. We will continue to work one small step at a time.
    A small side note. The informants mentioned earlier have also reported that the adults in this cult have visited eye doctors for glasses and dentists (using pain killers). Draw your own conclusions from this.

  5. But at least this little girl will go to Heaven when she dies, and God will restore her vision, while the godless persecutors of her parents will burn in Hell. That’s what counts, isn’t it?

  6. You would think that God would relent, and let them take the little girl to the hospital, and present them with a ram entangled in a bush to blind instead.

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