Oregon parents charged with death of child after withholding medical care

They belonged to a faith-healing church. If this sounds familiar, it should. It’s hard to keep track of all the cases that have popped up in Oregon and around the country.

Parents charged with manslaughter in daughter’s death | Local & Regional | KATU.com – Portland News, Sports, Traffic Weather and Breaking News – Portland, Oregon.

An Albany couple has been charged with manslaughter in the death of their 12-year-old daughter.

Travis Rossiter, 39, and Wenona Rossiter, 37, were charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter.

Police responded to a call on Feb. 5 that the couple’s daughter Syble had died.

“They belonged to a belief system called the Church of the First Born,” said Capt. Eric Carter of the Albany Police Department. “I’ll let you do your own research.”

The police note that they have had detectives investigating for several months and determined that the parents withheld medical care for their daughter for a treatable condition that was not specified.

It’s not stated in this piece but the obituary notes that Syble had two siblings.

Their church, Church of the First Born, is a fundamentalist Christian sect that believes in the power of healing prayer rather than medicine. This is appalling. There was a case in 1996 of a child that died from leukemia when the father, a member of the church refused treatment.

Oregon has been a focus of faith healing deaths. Another church, Followers of Christ, in Oregon City is another faith-healing church in the spotlight for unnecessary deaths of children when medical treatment was withheld.

From the NY Times (2011):

The church first came under criticism in 1998 after the local news media reported that of the 78 children buried in the church’s graveyard, at least 21 could have survived if they had received medical attention.

At the time, Clackamas County prosecutors said they were prevented from intervening by Oregon laws that gave legal protection to parents who refused because of their faith to seek medical care for their children.

The next year, the state Legislature repealed this exemption.

But the parents may avoid jail time if they plead guilty to a lesser offense. Am I the only one who thinks something FAR more serious needs to be done? This is a pattern.

  7 comments for “Oregon parents charged with death of child after withholding medical care

  1. Chris Howard
    August 30, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    The problem is that religion changes the context of everything, and it shouldn’t.

    In this instance there are people out there who actually believe that neglect, and abuse are valid because their religious beliefs rationalize said neglect, and abuse.

    It’s kind of like divine command theory. In some people’s minds if an authority figure (God, Zeus, Mother Nature, Hitler-sorry. It’s just too easy) “tells” them that a belief or action is ethical and moral then it is. Even if it clearly isn’t. It’s lazy, and it’s a cheap attempt at absolution, a variant of “I was just following orders.”

  2. Barn
    August 30, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Appalling… abomidable… unthinkable… unforgiveable… lots of terms can be used in these situations. None, however, are strong enough.

  3. August 30, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    “the parents withheld medical care for their daughter for a treatable condition”

    No-one deserves to escape punishment for a willful act like this through any sort of loophole, I don’t care what their guiding principles are. This is appalling however you look at it.

  4. neko
    August 30, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Lock them up.

    My only question is this: who else put them up to it? Is their church strong arming them? If so, church officials should be up there in front of the judge, as well, if they knew what was going on.

    It’s against the law in the US in every state I know to fail to report child abuse if you know of it, no religious, medical, or legal exceptions. Last I checked, it’s the one thing there is no constitutional duck-our on that. Not for regular people, maybe for the NSA.

    God can heal your child with medicine too, right? he can also let your child breath underwater, doesn’t mean you leave them in a flood. This is just their egocentric need to feel they are being “tested”. Nothing could be more sick making, except the “no skin in the game” religious leaders who give people this idea in the first place.

  5. August 30, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    Chris: I agree. Religion is respected. While many people are appalled by this, there are those who seem to think freedom of religion is more important a right than life of a person.

  6. August 30, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    Chris: That is why I have so much trouble with people who claim that morality comes from God and that you can’t be moral if you don’t believe in God.

    As I like to say, morality doesn’t come from God; morality comes from within and is what lets you decide which parts of God’s word (or anybody else’s words, for that matter) you want to follow. As long as you are willing to let somebody else decide for you what is “good” or “bad”, you have free reign to commit any atrocity whatsoever in that person’s name.

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