Today the tragic case of Justina Pelletier will return to court before Judge Johnston in the Suffolk County Juvenile Court in Boston. The case has been dragging on for 14 months, during which time she has been denied education and religious services or clergy visits and has had abysmal medical care while in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF). She has only been allowed one hour-long, supervised visit per week with her mom and dad, and they have not been permitted to take photographs of their daughter. But, following new legal pressure asserted by Liberty Counsel and intense media scrutiny, DCF permitted the most recent visitation to be unsupervised. Rev. Pat Mahoney accompanied Lou and Linda Pelletier to visit Justina.
Justina is now speaking out, and her words are being heard. Justina told her parents and Rev. Mahoney, “I feel like a prisoner.” She also asked, “Why can’t I go home with my parents?”
Today the case returns to court, but DCF is digging in its heels and does not want to release Justina to the care and custody of her mom and dad, Lou and Linda Pelletier. “DCF never had legal authority to take custody of Justina Pelletier. DCF never even tried to prove abuse or neglect because the agency had no basis to do so. The parents were following the expert medical advice from Tufts Medical Center when they took their daughter to Boston Children’s Hospital, where a rookie doctor disagreed with Justina’s expert physicians. DCF cannot take custody of children when parents choose to follow medical expert advice over that of a rookie doctor,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.
“DCF has been holding Justina prisoner and has tormented the family. To hear Justina say she feels like a prisoner and wants to return home with her parents is heartbreaking,” said Staver. “DCF has abused its authority and hurt this family. DCF had no right to come between Justina and her parents. The parents love their daughter and were following expert medical advice in treating their daughter. Justina was doing well under the parents’ care. Now she is confined to a wheelchair. Justina loved going to school, but she has not seen her classmates or received any education in 14 months. This is a tragedy. Justina needs to be freed from her prison,” said Staver.
“My goal is to get Justina home,” Staver concluded.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.