After Protests DCF Agrees to Allow Justina Pelletier to Return to Tufts

Justina Pelletier The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) has agreed that Justina Pelletier, the desperately ill Connecticut teenager at the center of a custody battle between her parents and the state, may return to Tufts Medical Center in Boston as requested by her parents. The DCF has also announced that it agrees to allow withdrawal of its charge of contempt of court against her father, Lou Pelletier who has broken a verbal court gag order not to speak to the media on several occasions. This action came after an increase in public protests and the involvement of a new team of lawyers funded by an anonymous billionaire earlier this week.

A statement issued late Friday by DCF’s Alec Loftus maintained that the Department’s primary concern was “the health and well-being of Justina.” He said that their objective was to find “an appropriate” facility near to her Connecticut home where she could be treated, and stated that they had identified a medical team at Tufts that had “the clinical expertise to care for Justina.” This is understood to be the first public statement made by the DCF that directly addresses the teenager who was made a custodian of the Department in February last year.

Justina Pelletier, who was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease a few years ago, first hit the media spotlight last year after she had been admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and was then re-diagnosed with a psychiatric condition, somatoform disorder in February last year. Her parents had taken her to BCH because a gastroenterologist who had treated her at Tufts had been transferred to BCH. But within three days, the teenager’s life was turned upside down. Suffering from a condition BCH medics said was “in her head,” she was declared to be a custodian of the state – and her parents were no longer allowed to have a say in her life.

In recent days there has been a surge of interest in the case, with an anonymous billionaire stepping forward to foot the bill for top lawyers, and a number of campaigners generating rallies, prayer vigils, petitions, and just about anything that will force the authorities to allow Justina Pelletier to return to Tufts Medical Center where she was treated previously. After many of these protests had been initiated it was reported that the DCF now agrees to much of what the campaigners have been demanding. However there is no indication that the teenager will be returned to her parents care unless the judge rules in favor of them regaining custody of their child, at the next court hearing which is set at March 17.

While this appears overall to be good news, the Pelletier family is said to be only “cautiously optimistic” because they have been fighting a custody battle against the DCF for about a year. Lou Pelletier, who has defiantly been interviewed by several high-profile media personalities including Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and radio host Glenn Beck, said he had been thrown so many “carrots” during the past year he has found it difficult to cope with the “dangling” and teasing. It was “the cruelest thing you can do,” he said because the family has been offered “hope” so often.

Ultimately all the Pelletier family wants is for the custody of their teenage daughter to be returned to them. Right now Lou Pelletier is more than a little skeptical, saying that the DCF has “destroyed my daughter.” But this will not stop his fight because he says he is “in it to win it.”

The protests continue, with new lawyers funded by a billionaire benefactor who is so appalled by the case he immediately wrote out a check to ensure the Pelletiers get the best legal team. Several new petitions have been launched and today about 30 people attended a prayer vigil outside the facility where Justina is currently still being held.

According to Justina Pelletier’s new attorney, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, even after the recent protests, he will not stop fighting for his client’s rights until the DCF is no longer involved in the case. While he is aware that the Department agrees to allow the teenager to return to Tufts, he says he is determined that DCF will be “held accountable” for what he has termed “negligent actions.”

By Penny Swift

Sources
The Blaze
Fox CT
Boston Globe
MyFOXBoston
Guardian Liberty Voice
Guardian Liberty Voice

7 Responses to "After Protests DCF Agrees to Allow Justina Pelletier to Return to Tufts"

  1. bermaliz   March 8, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Well due to the facts the department should nor hold this young lady away from her parents because they need to be with her in this condition I’m also a parent that is opening a protest against the department it will take place in Northampton ma on march 14 at noon in front of ucc .129 main St Northampton ma come join us so cases like these ones come to a stop.413 7344948

    Reply
  2. Anne Gross Beal   March 3, 2014 at 11:12 am

    @L. Willson: The evidence of abuse by the parents is simply lacking. The child was removed from their care a year ago and she has deteriorated. Whatever the underlying pathology, her parents clearly weren’t causing it. While they have been investigated for child abuse, as far as I can tell, no charges were ever filed. Certainly they haven’t been tried. Yet they still can’t get their kid back. This is how civil forfeiture works: on grounds of suspicion, even without ever filing charges, the government can take your property, your money, your pets or kids. The gag order was a violation of the parents’ First Amendment right of free speech and possibly an infringement of their right of appeal, since it prevented them from raising funds or engaging other lawyers. The failure to prosecute the alleged abuse was a violation of their Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. It is quite apparent that Massachusetts has little use for the Bill of Rights.

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  3. DFWMom   March 3, 2014 at 9:19 am

    There should be more effort to raise awareness of the larger global problem of the internation trend towards violating the rights of patients with rare disease. Articles about Justina Pelletier should also mention Karina Hansen in Denmark, a young adult who was taken from her parent’s guardianship, after being found competent to make her own decisions TWICE, and forced into the dubious “care” of the institution that conveniently found her incompetent, which just happened to be doing research attempting to prove a “psychiatric” diagnosis for her illness.. CLEARLY a conflict of interest. Young people like Justina at least have a chance to “age out” of intrusive State “care”, but Karina is trapped, possibly for the remainder of her life, unless there is a strong public protest against her kidnapping and imprisonment. We all have to stick together to fight for patient’s rights and parent’s rights, or there will be no recourse, when The State comes to your home to beat down the doors, as they did to Karina in Denmark and to Sophia Mirza in U.K..

    Reply
  4. Terry in GA   March 2, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    If as reported, Justina vehemently opposed being sent to Bader 5 for secure psych treatment and demanded an attorney, shouldn’t she have been allowed an independent attorney who represented her rights to her own interests?

    Also, it is critical with regard to this type issue, concerning Justina as well as the several others discussed to be victims of such overreach by BCH and DCF, that specific limits and oversight be required from a separate and unrelated knowledgeable authority to determine whether custody change is appropriate and necessary. In the case of a 14-yo young lady certainly capable of communicating her physical and emotional wishes, deference should have clearly given priority where there were legitimate conflicting medical opinions from two reputable facilities and the staff of both. And I have not seen or read of even a shred of evidence to indicate Justina should not be allowed more frequent visitation from her parents and other family members. That was simply an inexcusable power play on the part of BCH and/or DCF which I would consider to be both immoral and criminal.

    Reply
  5. janabird   March 2, 2014 at 11:34 am

    How Does Tufts MC Treat Metabolic Disorders?

    If you’re living with a metabolic disorder, you know that treatment is definitely not “one size fits all.”

    For example, your condition may involve many different parts of your body, and your symptoms may not always be the same. You may feel worse when you’re stressed or when you’ve got a cold. Some patients find it helpful to avoid certain foods, while others may turn to exercise to relieve their symptoms. The issues can be even more complex for parents who are managing treatment for a young child.

    In the Metabolic Disease Program, we measure our commitment to you in years, not months. That means our doctors take the time to get to know you and your unique needs. We work with you to develop a treatment plan that helps you — or your child — have the healthiest life possible.

    Treatment for metabolic disease usually involves a combination of:

    Dietary restrictions to limit foods your body has trouble processing
    Vitamin supplementation to replace nutrients your body can’t produce on its own
    Enzyme replacement therapy to help you make energy more efficiently
    Medication to clean metabolic waste products out of your system
    Bone marrow or stem cell transplantation to permanently replace missing enzymes
    Our doctors collaborate with specialists from across Tufts MC, so you can feel confident that you’re getting the right treatment for your condition, symptoms and health history.

    Reply
  6. janabird   March 2, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I believe this is a possible EMTALA Violation: Second, if an EMC exists, “hospital staff must either stabilize that condition to the extent of their ability or transfer the patient to another hospital with the appropriate capabilities.” Seems to me she should have been transfered to Tufts rather than giving her a second diagnosis and take her away from her parents..did they contact Tufts for her medical records? Did they attempt to contact her physician that had given her the initial diagnosis and had been treating her? Did they consider her family history? They obviously did not listen to her parents, her power of attorney of health care decision makers. People wake up this could be your family member child, spouse or parent.

    Reply
  7. L. Willson   March 2, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I wonder what the Liberty Counsel is going to do to ensure that Justina is not abused by her parents.

    Reply

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