Parents plead not guilty in faith-healing death

The Oregonian/October 3, 2008

The parents of an Oregon City boy who died during attempts to heal him with prayer today pleaded not guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

Jeffrey Dean Beagley, 50, and Marci Rae Beagley, 46, were arraigned in Clackamas County Circuit Court, with about a dozen fellow members of the Followers of Christ in Oregon City in attendance. They were released on bond.

A grand jury indictment accused them of "failing to provide adequate medical care to a child, in violation of the duty of a parent."

The couple's son, 16-year-old Neil Jeffrey Beagley, died June 17 of complications from a urinary tract blockage. He was surrounded by family and church members, who shun medical treatment in favor of spiritual healing.

If convicted, the Beagleys face a maximum of 10 years in prison. State sentencing guidelines, however, are likely to result in a 18 months or less in prison or probation. Their next court date is Nov. 4.

The Followers of Christ church also made headlines early this year when Neil Beagley's niece, 15-month-old Ava Worthington, died during a faith-healing session. Worthington's parents, Carl and Raylene, go to trial Jan. 26 on charges of manslaughter an criminal mistreatment.

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