An Oregon judge has refused to return a 7-month-old girl with a serious eye condition to a couple who belong to a faith-healing church.
OREGON CITY — An Oregon judge has refused to return a 7-month-old girl with a serious eye condition to a couple who belong to a faith-healing church.
Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Douglas Van Dyk made that decision Wednesday after hearing testimony that the child could lose the sight in one eye because she didn't get medical care.
Parents Timothy and Rebecca Wyland promised they would provide whatever treatment was required by the court or the state Department of Human Services.
The judge said doctors are still devising a treatment plan.
"The risks are great for this child," Van Dyk said.
A doctor testified that a fast-growing mass of blood vessels caused the little girl's left eye to shut, pushed the eyeball down and outward, and affected the eye socket.
Little Alayna could lose vision in the eye and probably will need surgery, said Dr. Thomas Valvano, a pediatrician at Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University.
"This was medical neglect," Valvano said.
The parents said they never considered getting medical attention for the growth and would not have if the state had not intervened.
The Wylands are members of the Followers of Christ church, which avoids most secular medical care, relying on faith-healing rituals to treat illness.
The state medical examiner's office has reported that during the past 30 years more than 20 children of church members have died of preventable or curable illnesses.
In March, two other church members were sentenced to prison for criminally negligent homicide in the 2008 death of their teenage son.
Lawyers for the Wylands said the couple weren't given a chance to obtain medical care after DHS got involved late last month and have been largely excluded from medical appointments.
Deputy District Attorney Colleen Gilmartin asked Rebecca Wyland why she didn't take Alayna to a doctor.
"Because I believe in God and put my faith in him," she replied.
In answer to a question, Timothy Wyland said he too puts his faith in God. If his daughter did not improve, "that's his will," he said.
Gilmartin said there is an ongoing criminal investigation in the case.
Child welfare workers got a tip in June that the child was suffering from an untreated medical problem. A caseworker took the child to the hospital June 30; she has been in foster care since being discharged July 5.
Van Dyk said the family should be reunited but due to the severity of Alayna's condition, that should wait until a treatment plan exists and monitoring is in place to guarantee the parents will follow the plan.