Parents Convicted in Botched Faith Healing of Son

A Clackamas County, Ore., jury found a faith healing couple guilty of criminally negligent homicide for failing to seek medical help for their son.

Jeff and Marci Beagley were convicted Tuesday, nearly two years after their 16-year-old son, Neil, died.

When Neil grew sick in 2008, the parents called family members and friends to lay their hands on him and pray for healing. Marci on Friday testified that her son said he didn't need to or want to go to the doctor.

"We waited out and tried to make a decision doing the best we could," said the mother, who is part of the controversial Followers of Christ Church, which promotes faith healing.

The mother said the decision to not go to the emergency room was influenced partly by her faith and partly by her son's wishes.

The defense argued that the Beagleys were not aware of how sick Neil was and "believed in the healing powers of God."

Neil died from complications from a urinary tract blockage, an easily treatable condition. Just months earlier, the Beagleys' 15-month-old granddaughter died of pneumonia and a blood infection.

Most states have religious exemptions to child abuse laws. Oregon law formerly provided some protection to parents who relied solely on spiritual treatment for their dying child. The protection was withdrawn in 1999 amid cases of children from Followers of Christ Church dying from untreated medical conditions.

The Beagleys may face 16 to 18 months in prison.

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