When the trial of Dale and Shannon Hickman begins this week in Clackamas County, the curtain again rises on a familiar tragedy, one centered on the death of a child and on parents whose unwavering faith in divine healing may lead them to prison.
The Hickmans are members of the Followers of Christ, an Oregon City faith-healing church. The congregation has a long history of children dying from curable conditions because parents rejected medical care in favor of spiritual treatments.
The Hickmans are charged with second-degree manslaughter.
The baby, David Hickman was born two months prematurely. He weighed 3 pounds, 5 ounces. His lungs were underdeveloped, and he lived nine hours. The Hickmans say David appeared healthy then took a sudden dire turn. His skin became gray and his breathing labored.
The birth was attended by female church members who are considered midwives but it is unclear whether they have any medical education.
An autopsy found that the baby died of a bacterial infection of his feeble lungs.