After more than a year of delays, a Massachusetts judge on Tuesday awarded the state custody of a 15-year-old Connecticut girl essentially taken from her parents over an illness.
Judge Joseph Johnston ruled that Justina Pelletier should be a ward of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, despite the agency’s apparent violation of a March 3 court-approved agreement transferring the girl’s medical care to Tufts Medical Center, according to a statement from Liberty Counsel.
The judge also ruled that his decision was subject to review after June 20, six months from the date of a previous order
“Once again, the court is kicking the can down the road. This is unacceptable,” said the attorney representing Pelletier’s parents, Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “DCF has no right to hold Justina like a prisoner. We will pursue every legal means to end this tragedy.”
The dispute began more than a year ago, when Pelletier, accompanied by her mother, walked into Boston Children’s Hospital with severe flu-like symptoms. Tufts doctors were treating her for a rare mitochondrial disease.
Within days, physicians at Boston Children’s rejected the Tufts physicians’ diagnosis and said her problems were psychological. In the months since, Pelletier’s condition has worsened. Once a competitive figure skater; she now uses a wheelchair.
Justina’s father and sister, Lou and Jennifer Pelletier, appeared on America’s Newsroom Monday and told Fox host Martha MacCallum they were discouraged.
“it’s not going to be good news,” Lou Pelletier predicted. He was right.
Jennifer Pelletier said that when she last saw her sister on Friday, her condition had deteriorated.
“This is the most severe I’ve seen her legs swollen. The DCF worker even acknowledged that she has edema,” the sister said. “[Justina] said she can’t feel from her hips down.”
The family vowed to continue fighting.
“In all my years in practice, I have never seen a more barbaric overreach by a state agency,” Staver said. “The family has asked us to pursue every legal means necessary to get their daughter home. Liberty Counsel will file an appeal or a habeas corpus petition.”
Watch Monday’s interview via Fox News.
Lou and Jennifer appeared on Fox News Wednesday to discuss the judge’s opinion with Bill Hemmer:
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