Parents avoid jail in faith healing case in Oregon that resulted in child’s death

Probation in son’s death | The parents relied on prayer instead of a doctor to heal their child, who died after his appendix ruptured.

Nine months after their teenage son died of an infection from a burst appendix, a Creswell couple who chose prayer over medical care for the boy admitted criminal responsibility for his death.

Russel and Brandi Bellew each pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Lane County Circuit Court to charges of criminally negligent homicide, as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

The Bellews — who are members of a church that generally believes in using prayer instead of modern medicine to treat illnesses — avoided jail in the plea deal, but will spend the next five years on probation. During that time, they will be required to contact a doctor whenever any of their six surviving children suffer from an ailment that causes them to miss school for more than one day.

Tip: @Blue_wode on Twitter

This is a very thorough piece on faith vs medical care for children. I encourage you to read the whole piece if interested in this topic.

Had the couple been convicted of manslaughter, they each would have faced a mandatory minimum prison sentence of six years and three months. They pleaded guilty to the less-serious felony charge of criminally negligent homicide. It was disclosed that their son, Austin, had indeed died of the infection after being sick for a while before. He had refused medical treatment himself in line with his faith, but he was a minor and could not legal make that decision.

The incident has resulted in extensive outreach to the church members by local law enforcement who have made it clear that medical neglect of a child won’t be tolerated by Lane County authorities. State laws were explaned and they urged parents to call a doctor whenever there is a health-related concern regarding a child. They report that the church has been very cooperative.

This result is in contrast to this earlier conviction also in Oregon.

  7 comments for “Parents avoid jail in faith healing case in Oregon that resulted in child’s death

  1. September 19, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Once again, religion gets a pass.

  2. September 19, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    A triumph of ignorance over reason. Yay Jesus!

  3. September 19, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    I remember this. The woman’s fist husband died of sepsis because….wait for it, here it comes…he refused medical treatment and opted for prayer to treat a leg injury.

    Idiotic.

  4. September 19, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    When things are at btheir worst you can count on prayer to do absolutely nothing to make things better.

  5. One Eyed Jack
    September 20, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    “The incident has resulted in extensive outreach to the church members by local law enforcement who have made it clear that medical neglect of a child won’t be tolerated by Lane County authorities.”

    Obviously, it will be tolerated since all the parents got was a slap on the wrist.

    Negligent homicide and all you get is probation? Wow. Just wow.

  6. Mark
    September 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    When belief in fary tales trump science and reason , this is the result.

  7. Brian
    October 18, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    What should make everyone who posted nervous- Unless I find a story about it closing… the church is still open. people still listen to the person running this joint, and I am sure still give him money.

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