Judge Awards “Permanent” Custody of Justina Pelletier to DCF Officials
by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 3/25/14 5:43 PM
In a ruling that deals a striking blow to the parents of Justina Pelletier, a judge has ruled that the state of Massachusetts will received “permanent” custody of Pelletier.
After the Liberty Counsel litigation team filed a contempt of court motion against the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) in the Justina Pelletier case a judge ruled against her parents.
The decision came after Lou Pelletier, Justina’s father, disclosed to the attorneys representing her and her family that Justina’s health is rapidly deteriorating. After a Friday visit, Justina’s older sister, Jennifer, told Fox News Connecticut (Fox CT) that her sister’s health is “scary” and she has never seen her in worse condition.
In what appears to be a major setback to the parents of a Connecticut teenager in the middle of a long-running custody dispute, a Massachusetts juvenile court judge Tuesday issued a ruling giving “permanent” custody of Justina Pelletier to the state Department of Children and Families, which then leaves it up to the agency to decide if or when she should be returned back home.
The decision by Judge Joseph Johnston came in response to a motion, presented by the 15-year-old’s court-appointed lawyer and the lawyers for her parents, Linda and Lou Pelletier of West Hartford, Conn., which called for the parents to be awarded “conditional custody” of their daughter.
Mat Staver, the lead attorney for Liberty Counsel, tells LifeNews the situation is precarious.
“We are now taking proactive measures against the DCF. In all my years in practice, I have never seen a more outrageous overreach by a state agency,” he said. “Three weeks ago, Judge Joseph Johnston approved a written agreement transferring care back to Tufts Medical Center from Boston Children’s Hospital, doctors from which inaccurately diagnosed Justina’s condition. Now, her health has deteriorated to a threatening state. Despite this enforceable order, DCF still has not made appointments with Tufts.”
Staver says the Pelletiers have spoken several times to Dr. Mark Korson, who was treating Justina before this debacle began, and they obtained an appointment date. Dr. Korson said that he wants to see Justina and resume her effective treatment immediately, but on Friday, March 21, DCF outrageously said it will not honor any appointments with Tufts until the judge rules on Tuesday (today).
“A child’s health and welfare are hanging in the balance. We cannot allow DCF to continue withholding treatment from this young girl,” he said. “It is obvious to everyone but DCF that this disease is physical, not psychiatric. DCF should stop delaying, obey the court order, and send her to Tufts for medical treatment immediately.”
Staver added: “The State of Massachusetts cannot make Justina a prisoner merely because they disagree with the medical protocols recommended and administered by a respected medical institution responsible for her care. Today, we all await the judge’s ruling.”
Fourteen months ago, Justina, now fifteen years old, was legally kidnapped by Massachusetts DCF after her parents took her to Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) to see Dr. Flores, a physician who had treated Justina before at Tufts Medical Center for gastrointestinal problems.
DCF has refused to provide adequate medical care, has refused to allow Justina access to a clergy or communion, and even refused to provide any education for her.
In January of 2013, before she was admitted to the ER at BCH, Justina was involved in ice-skating competitions and was in a private school under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for a learning disability. Now, she is weak and in a wheelchair. Without any education, she has fallen at least two years behind her classmates. DCF has allowed the parents only one hour per week to visit their daughter, but always with a DCF worker or workers present. DCF has prevented the parents from taking a cell phone to photograph their daughter. Last month, DCF even filed a motion to hold Lou Pelletier in contempt of court for speaking to the national media.
Pelletier, the teen at the center of a legal battle between the Pelletier family and Boston Children’s Hospital over custody and proper medical treatment, spoke out publicly about her ordeal for the first time last week. Lou and Linda Pelletier from West Hartford, Conn., appeared in court several times, fighting for a resolution to regain custody and medical care of their 15-year-old daughter.
The case is drawing national attention, as Boston Children’s Hospital filed a “medical child abuse” complaint against Justina’s parents last year, leading the state to take custody of her and hospitalize her for almost a year.
A judge had previously sentenced the Connecticut teenager, who has been caught in a yearlong custody fight between her parents and Massachusetts child protection officials, to a new foster care program in Massachusetts. The ruling triggered an anguished response from her parents when it was announced by a juvenile court judge and pro-life advocates were also up in arms.
Pelletier has only been allowed one, one hour supervised visit per week with her mom and dad and they have not been permitted to take photographs of their daughter. But, following new legal pressure asserted by Liberty Counsel and intense media scrutiny, DCF permitted the most recent visitation to be unsupervised. Rev. Pat Mahoney, a nationally known pro-life activist, accompanied Lou and Linda Pelletier to visit Justina.
Justina is now speaking out and her words are being heard. Justina told her parents and Rev. Mahoney, “I feel like a prisoner.”
She also asked, “Why can’t I go home with my parents?”