Pelletiers Lose Permanent Custody of Daughter Justina

In a heart-rending decision today, Judge Joseph Johnston gave permanent custody of desperately debilitated 15-year-old Justina Pelletier to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DC). Lou and Linda Pelletier and their four daughters live in West Hartford, Connecticut, or did until Justina was taken to Boston Children’s Hospital for treatment for the flu. Justina had been treated by Tufts Medical Center’s Dr. Mark Korson for Mitochondrial disease, an inherited condition that one of her sisters also has. Once Justina entered Boston Children’s they kept her. That was over a year ago.

Justina Pelletier's Sisters

Justina Pelletier’s Sisters

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. Source: Life News (read more here)

In early March the Pelletiers were told they could return their daughter to the care of Tufts but the Massachusetts DCF would still retain temporary custody. The family set up the appointment with Dr. Korson who is eager to return her to the previous treatments which seemed to be working when you look at the ‘then and now’ photo below. DCF refused to honor the appointment date.

Justina Pelletier, before Boston Childrens on left

Justina Pelletier, before Boston Childrens on left

What you see above happened while in the care of Boston Children’s Hospital.

Life News quotes the Pelletier’s attorney, Mat Staver, stating:

“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.”

Here’s what got in the craw of the Judge who did not lose a child to the Massachusetts DCF:

Johnston said Lou and Linda Pelletier were “verbally abusive,” citing an instance when “they called hospital personnel Nazis,” and another when the judge said a state social worker had to be removed from the case due to allegations that Lou Pelletier threatened the worker. Source: FoxCT

I don’t have to think long or hard to know what my husband would say if we were in the Pelletier’s position. Can you imagine being under a gag order for a year, as your child withers away, and under the treat of a jail sentence. Justina’s case has only gotten as far as it has today because Lou Pelletier disobeyed the order and began talking.

Note that Boston Children’s did not accuse the Pelletiers of endangering their child physically or verbally, but they did accuse Justina of having psychological problems, and have claimed that she does not have Mitochondrial disease.

The family cannot have the case reviewed before May 20th, six months after Johnson’s initial decision. Prayers needed now that Justina get back under the care of Dr. Mark Korson and that Korson not be hit with a gag order. My original story on Justina is here.

  • The more this case drags on, the more I can’t help but wonder why it is proceeding in this fashion. There is no good reason for the Pelletiers to lose custody of their daughter. Why are the Massachusetts authorities so fixated on making their point?

  • GoneWithTheWind

    This case is important to all Americans. Either the state is/has made a mistake and is now covering it up at the expense of this young girl and her family OR there is something more about this case that we are not beng told. The legally mandated secrecy around an individual’s health information is a big part of the problem. Is the mother and father telling us the truth and the doctors lying or are the parents taking advantage of the fact that the doctors and lawyers cannot talk about the child’s health problems in any detail? I personally believe that the secrecy that is mandated by law in legal cases involving anyone under 18 and the secrecy around health issues is categorically wrong and is used far more often by the state to cover up thier mistakes and misuse of the law then it’s real intent to protect people’s privacy. I for one want to know the truth. If the state was incorrect to take the child in the first place and is now using their ability to keep the facts secret to cover this up I want to know. On the other hand if the family have indeed acted against the interests and medical needs of this child I want to know that as well so I can be assured that the state is acting appropriately. I think in this case the publics need to know that the state is doing the right thing and not misusing the powers that the citizens allowed them to have is more important then patient privacy.

    • Guest

      Something stinks to high heaven with this case. I do not understand why the original doctors cannot have a say in this case and bring all the information to light. Seeing the Dad in many interviews..He loves and wants the best for his daughter.

  • KatieNorcross

    You must know, parents do not have any right to their children. The State has total control over your children, over their education, religious training, etc… If the State says no, then the parents must obey.