A juvenile court judge issued a ruling Tuesday giving the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families “permanent” custody of Justina Pelletier. Any future decision to return the 15-year-old to her parents is now solely up to the agency.
Judge Joseph Johnston ruled in response to a motion from Pelletier’s court-appointed lawyer and her parents’ lawyers, Linda and Lou Pelletier of West Hartford Conn., which called for “conditional custody” of their daughter, reports The Boston Globe.
She has been in the custody of the state since February, 2013, when DCF removed her from her parents care. They have been aggressively demanding custody of Justina since then, and the case has gained national attention.
Justina Pelletier was being treated for mitochondrial disease, a genetic disorder that affects muscle tissue, by doctors at Tufts Medical Center early last year. She was admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital when she came down with the flu. Doctors at BCH disagreed with the Tufts doctors and diagnosed her with somatoform disorder, a mental illness.
Her parents rejected the new diagnosis and attempted to move her back to Tufts, when BCH notified the state it suspected the parents of medical abuse. The Massachussetts Department of Children and Families took emergency custody of Pelletier in February.
She has remained in their custody since then, spending most of her time in a psychiatric ward, and allowed one supervised hour a week to see her parents, reported The Boston Globe. She was moved to a residential facility a few months ago, but continues to be treated as an outpatient.
Despite a plan finalized to move her back to Tufts, a Pelletier family spokesperson said in a statement she is still unable to see Tufts doctors. ”This nightmare has continued far too long as continued delays have threatened Justina’s health,” he said.
Yesterday, AllVoices reported Justina’s visits with her parents are now supervised by armed guards.
Keith Mason, Personhood USA president, said in a statement prior to the ruling he hopes Justina is returned to her family. “If not, we will raise up a public outcry so deafening that it cannot – and will not – be ignored,” he said.
A petition to the White House demanding a criminal investigation into Massachusetts DCF and BCH has been launched and needs to reach the goal of 100,000 by April 24 to receive a response from the Obama administration.