INTERVIEW: Pelletier Family Reacts After MA Takes Permanent Custody
There's breaking news this morning on a story that Fox News has been following for months. A Massachusetts judge granted the state permanent custody of a 15-year-old Connecticut girl who's at the center of a nationally-watched legal battle between her family and the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
Justina Pelletier has been a ward of the state for over a year amid a dispute between her family and officials over her medical diagnosis.
The battle began after doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital disputed a diagnosis by Tufts Medical Center that Justina has mitochondrial disease, instead saying she suffers from a psychological condition. When Justina’s parents tried to remove her from the hospital to take her back to Tufts, she was placed in DCF foster care.
On Tuesday, a judge ruled that DCF can take permanent custody of Pelletier. The agency says it will make efforts to move the teen to a facility in Connecticut to be close to her family.
Justina's father, Lou, and her sister, Jennifer, sat down with Bill Hemmer to give their reaction as they get ready to begin new legal action against the state. The judge, Joseph Johnston, criticized the Pelletier family in his decision, describing them as unfit to handle their daughter's medical needs.
Lou Pelletier explained that the judge has ignored "two years of expert medical opinion and advice" from doctors at Tufts, who diagnosed Justina with mitochondrial disease. He pointed out that the judge is going on the diagnoses of two young doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital, who made the diagnosis of a severe somatic symptom disorder.
"Somatoform takes months to years to diagnose and this psychologist did it in 12 hours. There's a lot of pieces that this judge forgot to put in his [ruling]," he said.
On the allegations that her parents are unfit to care for Justina, Jennifer Pelletier maintained that none of it is true.
"I don't know where they're coming from with this. My family is a loving family, always looking out for the best for each other. On the contrary, they're the ones that are neglecting my sister," she said. Jennifer said her sister is suffering from edema, with her legs severely swollen, but the hospital told her "they're fine."
"A child should not have edema. There is something seriously going on and they're just looking the other way. If something happens to my sister under their care, she's not going to be a number in the system, I'm sorry."
Hemmer said that from an outside perspective, one would think that the state believes it's acting with the "welfare of the child in mind." Lou said the system is set up for DCF and hospitals to "take advantage" and argued there is "almost no oversight" of DCF.
"Tufts was working fine with her. [She was] diagnosed medically, going to school, ice skating, doing [other] things. Look at her now. Look at the before and after picture of Justina Pelletier," he said, announcing new legal action the family is taking against DCF.
In addition to appealing the custody rulings, the family is filing a writ of habeas corpus in Massachusetts Superior Court for wrongful imprisonment and arguing that Justina's civil rights have been violated.
"There's been a little evil game plan that's been going on at Boston Children's [Hospital]," said Mr. Pelletier, pointing out that Justina has been kept in isolation, and they were even denied permission to see her on holidays.
Watch the full interview above and stay tuned to Fox News for more developments on this story
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