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Faith healers acquitted of manslaughter in the death of their two year old
OREGON CITY, Ore. - The jury forewoman in the trial of an Oregon couple acquitted of manslaughter in their daughter's pneumonia death says she felt the pair were "loving people" who didn't mean to harm the 15-month-old girl.
The jury knew Carl Brent Worthington and his pregnant wife, Raylene, "had no intentions of ever harming their child," Ashlee Santos told reporters on Thursday outside the Clackamas County Courthouse. "If anything, the evidence showed the opposite."
In the Worthington trial, prosecutors said Ava failed to flourish most of her life because of a neck cyst that impeded her breathing and eating, contributing to her fatal pneumonia. She died on a Sunday evening after family and church members prayed over her and anointed her with olive oil.
The state medical examiner said she could easily have been saved with antibiotics.
But the defense attacked the credibility of the state's expert witnesses and said the child died of a fast-moving blood infection that can accompany pneumonia. The Worthingtons testified that the cyst was a trait in the father's family and that they thought their child only had a cold.
Ava Worthington died of complications of pneumonia after her parents opted for faith healing over professional medical treatment. This case was interesting because it was the first test of Oregon's recent law attempting to make parents criminally liable for deaths and injuries as a result of pursuing faith healing over traditional medical treatment. Obviously, it didn't work out that way. The jury appears to have been confused over what the law was and what their role was, as well. The case raised a number of interesting problems with the law, one of the foremost being that almost no one things that the penalties involved provide any kind of deterrent or rehabilitative function.
So, whatcha think D&D? Should parents have the right to a religious defense in the death of a child? Is there any punishment that makes sense here? Is enforcement too thorny to handle?
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