West Hartford Girl to Stay in Custody of Massachusetts DCF

A Massachusetts court ruled Justina Pelletier, who has been held at Boston Children's Hospital for 10 months, won't be returning home.

Supporters of the Pelletier family hold signs outside the Massachusetts court Friday where a custody ruling was handed down. Credit: Ted Glanzer
Supporters of the Pelletier family hold signs outside the Massachusetts court Friday where a custody ruling was handed down. Credit: Ted Glanzer

By Ted Glanzer

Justina Pelletier will not be coming home for the holidays.

A family court judge in Boston on Friday ruled that the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families is permitted to keep custody of the 15-year-old girl. The Pelletier family could not comment as a result of the gag order.

A tearful Linda Pelletier, who was seen breaking down in an emotional moment in the courtroom, said outside the courthouse, "It's not completed yet."

When asked if she got the result she was looking for, she said 'no.'

Chester Pennington, attorney for the Pelletiers, said that he could not discuss the case at all but that another hearing had been set, although he did not disclose the date.

Philip Borden, president of MitoAction, said that his sources had told him that the case has been continued until Jan. 10. A guardian ad litem has been appointed for Justina Pelletier and the Pelletier family may not have contact with her at least until the next hearing. 

The family will not know where Justina is until that time.

It’s the latest turn of events in Justina’s bizarre case that started on Feb. 10, when Justina, who has been diagnosed and treated by Tufts doctors for mitochondrial disorder, a rare genetic disease, was sent to Boston Children’s Hospital for a bout with the flu.

Justina’s regular doctor was unavailable at the time.

Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital reportedly said that mitochondrial disorder does not exist and diagnosed Justina withsomatoform disorder, a mental illness characterized by pain and gastrointestinal symptoms that have no identifiable physical cause.

Since that day in February, Justina Pelletier’s parents - Linda and Lou - have seen the situation devolve into the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families taking custody of the girl and limiting contact with Justina to just one hour a week, with two 20-minute phone calls (which are monitored by hospital staff). Justina’s condition has also worsened.

After a series of hearings, the family court judge ruled that the Massachusetts DCF may continue to have custody of the girl, who has stayed at Boston Children’s Hospital since February.

People from the mitochondrial disorder community who turned out in support of the Pelletiers were disappointed with the apparent negative ruling. 

"We are disappointed that we didn't get the Christmas miracle we were hoping for," said Ginger DeShaney, a member of MitoAction. "There are no words. It's bad enough that she's been gone for 10 months and it's the holiday season. We don't know what's happening. It appears she might not be home for Christmas."
Christopher Stock December 20, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Sick institutions and corrupt judges. We've become a police state that is denying individuals their constitutional rights.
Christopher Stock December 20, 2013 at 09:12 PM
The doctors at Mass Children's Hospital are arrogant, power crazy, snobs who are interested only in "proving" they are right.
Joe Bigschit December 20, 2013 at 10:05 PM
The Government should take your children. Keep voting for those Democrats, they know what is best.


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