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MASSACHUSETTS JUDGE KEEPS SICK TEEN FROM PARENTS FOR AT LEAST THREE MORE MONTHS, BUT POSSIBLY THREE MORE YEARS
by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 10, 2014) — In an email notification on Wednesday, Brian Connor of the citizen action group Grassfire stated that a member of the Massachusetts legislature, Rep. Jim Lyons, is attempting with several other lawmakers to reverse a judge’s ruling that 15-year-old Justina Pelletier must remain in Massachusetts state custody until she is 18.
Lyons told a Grassfire representative that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s official response to his inquiry on Justina’s behalf was “DCF does not have the authority to determine when and if custody should be returned to Justina’s parents; that authority is held solely by the court.”
On March 26, Liberty Counsel reported that Juvenile Court Judge Joseph Johnston ruled the day before that “the custody of Justina Pelletier will remain with Massachusetts DCF, at least until a future hearing which the court says can happen no earlier than late June.”
In February of last year, Justina, who had been diagnosed by Tufts Medical Center as having mitochondrial disease, came down with the flu. Her doctors at Tufts recommended that her parents seek treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital, where the specialist who had been following her had reportedly become employed. Instead, according to Fox News and other major media reports, Justina’s case was overtaken by two unknown doctors; she was forbidden from being attended to by the physician her parents had sought out; her parents were accused of medical abuse by treating her for mitochondrial disease instead of the somatoform disease they claimed she had; and the two doctors reported the case to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), after which custody of Justina was wrenched from her parents and given to the commonwealth.
Justina’s story was making headlines in overseas newspapers before it became public in the U.S. approximately two months ago when her father, Lou, decided to speak to the media despite a gag order imposed by the Massachusetts juvenile court system. In November, the UK Daily Mail reported that Justina was sending notes to her parents hidden in origami artwork which the psychiatric ward in which she was being held at Boston Children’s Hospital allowed her to construct.
Late last month, Boston.com reported that “This case, which has drawn national attention, involves the concept of medical child abuse, and highlights the challenges that doctors, judges and state social workers face with patients who exhibit both troubling physical and psychiatric symptoms.”
Justina is reportedly receiving no education, as is her right under federal law, and according to her father, her medical condition is quickly deteriorating. She is now confined to a wheelchair, and her sister has described her condition as “scary.” She is reportedly receiving no medical treatment for the mitochondrial disease and is in constant pain.
It has been reported that as a “ward of the state,” Justina “may be used for research without parents’ approval.” Lou has stated that he believes his daughter is being used as a “guinea pig for medical experiments.”
Johnston reportedly cited the parents’ “conduct” for having called their daughter’s hospital jailers “Nazis.” In Nazi Germany, the Hitler’s Youth organization took children away from their parents for indoctrination into allegiance to the Nazi state. Johnston claimed that “Efforts by hospital clinicians to work with the parents were futile and never went anywhere,” blaming Justina’s parents for having allegedly “stood in the way of every attempt to get Justina treatment.”
However, the parents disagreed with the treatment plan thrust on them by Boston Children’s Hospital and had wished to take her back to Tufts, which BCH prevented by contacting DCF. However, the court has reportedly ordered Justina’s care transferred back to Tufts, although to date, Justina may not have seen her specialist there for a scheduled appointment.
Johnston was critical of Connecticut DCF, claiming that it “refused to take the case.” Of the judge’s decision, The New York Daily News subtitled its March 26, 2014 report, “Judge Joseph Johnston is fed up with Lou and Linda Pelletier’s public campaign to bring their sick daughter back home. He claims the parents are unfit to care for the 15-year-old Connecticut teen and gave Massachusetts’ Department of Children and Families permanent custody.”
But is a “public campaign” not the duty of a free press?
Lou Pelletier is reportedly working on a federal civil rights lawsuit and habeas corpus writ to free his daughter from Massachusetts state custody. He told The Hartford Courant that Justina has “suffered needlessly.” Massachusetts claims that its goal is to see to the “health and well-being” of Justina, who is reportedly losing her hair and showing other deteriorating symptoms.
Justina was moved to the Wayside Youth and Family Support Network in Framingham, MA in late January. The facility states that it is “dedicated to achieving the highest standards of quality and integrity in providing leading edge counseling, family support, residential and educational services for building strength, hope and resiliency in youth, families and communities.”
The Post & Email has reported on numerous cases in which children were wrested from apparently loving and capable homes and given to strangers, in some cases, couples who could not have children but wanted them. In the case of many, reunification was never attempted or was dangled as an incentive but never delivered upon.
“They’ve destroyed my whole family,” Jeffrey Henderson told The Post & Email in December regarding his eight children, three of whom were placed in adoptive situations despite risks in those homes and no charges of abuse or neglect ever leveled at his wife or him.
Upon calling Gov. Patrick’s office on Thursday morning at (617) 725-4005 and stating that we were inquiring about the Justina Pelletier case, The Post & Email was told to contact Mary-Leah Assad at Massachusetts DCF at 617-748-2017. We did so, leaving a message with our contact information and requesting a return call or email. Our question to Ms. Assad was, “What will you do if this child dies in your custody? How will you explain your decision to keep her in state custody?”
Pelletier says that his daughter is “dying under the care of the state of Massachusetts.” Pelletier told WND in a March 24 interview that 94 children have died “over the last few years” in the custody of Massachusetts DCF.
A petition titled “Justice for Justina” is here.