Faith-healing parents win extended in-home visits with ailing daughter

The Oregonian/July 30, 2010

The Beavercreek couple facing criminal charges for failing to provide adequate medical care to their infant daughter will be allowed extended visits at least five days a week with their child, who will remain in temporary state custody.

Timothy and Rebecca Wyland pleaded not guilty to first-degree criminal mistreatment charges Thursday, about four weeks after the state took over the care of Alayna Wyland. The 7-month-old, who is the Wylands' only daughter, has a mass of blood vessels called a hemangioma over her eye, threatening her vision.

Clackamas County Circuit Judge Douglas Van Dyk approved a custody plan Friday that allows the couple to be with the child for several hours during the day before returning her to a foster parent.

The Wylands are one of four couples from the same Oregon City congregation to be charged with failing to provide medical care to their child in a little more than a year. Members of the Followers of Christ Church rely on faith-healing rather than most forms of medical treatment.

The plan, which begins Monday, includes three mandated daily dosages of medication. The afternoon dosage administered during Alayna's time with her parents must be monitored, possibly via the online teleconferencing program Skype, the judge ruled. The parents also agreed to contact a doctor for any injuries or concerns about illness.

A prosecutor attempted to obtain a no-contact order limiting the Wylands' supervised visits during Thursday's arraignment, but the judge overseeing the criminal portion of the matter deferred his decision to Van Dyk.

"Separation from parents is a calamity in the life of a child, and it's a calamity in the life of this child," Van Dyk said. "The trauma associated with these court proceedings could have life-affecting consequences .. so I believe that is why the law focuses on reasonable efforts to eliminate the need for separation from this family."

But Van Dyk said the first and foremost concern would be for the physical well-being of the child, who may still be in danger of blindness.

Defense attorney John Neidig, who represents Rebecca Wyland, noted one doctor had reported the child's eye was "tracking," but Deputy District Attorney Colleen Gilmartin countered that another doctor believed there was still doubt about the child's vision.

"They simply don't know because tracking isn't necessarily indicative of sight," she said.

Weekend visits may also be possible for the family, but only if a medical professional is available to monitor the medication, according to Van Dyk's ruling. Previously, the parents were allowed three supervised visits a week.

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