A judge in Massachusetts has sided with a state agency that just a day earlier was accused of contempt of court for not following a judicially approved plan for treatment for a 15-year-old girl.
According to a report from officials with Liberty Counsel, Judge Joseph Johnston in Boston ruled on Tuesday that custody of Justina Pelletier will remain with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families “until a future hearing.”
That, according to Liberty Counsel officials, could not be any earlier than May 20.
“Once again, the court is kicking the can down the road. This is unacceptable,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. “DCF has no right to hold Justina like a prisoner. We will pursue every legal means to end this tragedy.”
WND had reported only a day earlier that Liberty Counsel, a non-profit legal advocacy group that has been trying to get the 15-year-old returned to the custody of her parents so her medical treatment can be resumed, asked for the contempt citation against the DCF.
The request was based on the fact that on March 3 Johnston approved a written agreement transferring care for the teenager to Tufts Medical Center. The parents had been taking her to the hospital for treatment before the state agency intervened.
“Despite this enforceable order, DCF still has not made appointments with Tufts,” said Liberty Counsel in its explanation of the request to the court.
“The Pelletiers have spoken several times to Dr. 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 treatment immediately.”
It was 14 months ago that Justina “was essentially 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.”
Even though she had been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, which causes muscle pain and weakness, doctors at Children’s Hospital said she had a mental condition and took custody away from her parents.
According to LC, for 14 months DCF has refused to provide adequate medical care, refused to allow Justina access to a clergy or communion, and “even refused to provide any meaningful education for her.”
Before she was taken by Children’s, LC reported, “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 in 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.”
“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.”
According to WTIC-TV in Hartford, Conn., Justina’s sister, Jennifer, over the weekend said Justina is now in poor condition.
“Her physical appearance, just from seeing her, it’s scary. Her legs are more swollen. They’re cold to the touch. She has no feeling in her feet,” Jennifer told WTIC.
Justina, from West Hartford, has been at Wayside Youth and Family Support Network in Framingham, Mass., recently.
The dispute over custody of Justina has been raging for more than a year, and the Boston Globe reports the girl has spent most of that time “in a locked psychiatric ward” at Children’s Hospital.