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.Now we have a decision:
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.”
A long-running child custody case took a dramatic turn Tuesday, when a Massachusetts juvenile court judge awarded permanent custody of teenager Justina Pelletier to the state Department of Children and Families.This is weird. There seems to be some sort of turf war between Massachusetts and Connecticut, and between one hospital and another.
The ruling by Judge Joseph Johnston means the 15-year-old will probably stay in state custody until her 18th birthday unless her parents can prove they are fit to care for their child.
The judge’s four-page decision, which was provided to the Globe, was remarkable for its detail and forcefulness. Johnston faulted Connecticut’s child protection agency for its failure to get involved in a case involving a child from its state, and faulted Pelletier’s parents for their verbally abusive manner and haphazard decision-making that he says has sabotaged plans to move their daughter closer to home.
Johnston wrote that the parents called Boston Children’s Hospital personnel Nazis “and claimed the hospital was punishing and killing Justina. Efforts by hospital clinicians to work with the parents were futile and never went anywhere.”
The judge said the parents accused hospital personnel of being "Nazis" for seizing their daughter and holding her for 7 months, while her health deterioates under a bad diagnosis. I thought that calling people Nazis was an American right. The judge also accused: "the parents use profanity directed at the MA DCF [CPS] personnel" [para.12].
In his ruling, Johnston, for the first time publicly, stated his belief that Pelletier suffers from “a persistent and severe Somatic Symptom Disorder,” a psychiatric diagnosis that doctors at Children’s reached in early 2013 when the girl was brought there because she had difficulty walking and eating. The parents objected to that diagnosis, leading to accusations of medical child abuse and setting off a monthslong battle over her care.This is the weirdest thing. The term Somatic symptom disorder is a DSM-IV psychiatric disorder. It essentially means that the child is showing physical symptoms with no apparent physical cause, so they decide that the problem is all in the head. If that is true, then I would expect the symptoms to disappear after being under proper care for a couple of months. It has now been over a year.
Imagine if your 15yo daughter was being treated for serious medical problems, but then CPS seized her because some other shrink said that the problems were all in her head. Might you use profanity and call them Nazis?
This is a strange decision for a high profile case.
It concedes that CT has jurisdiction, but refuses to turn the case over to CT because of uncertainty about what CT would do.
It claims "neglect", but that seems to be just a difference of professional medical opinions.
It claims that the girl's physical problems are psychosomatic, but fails to report any improvement while 1 year in state custody.
It claims "best interest", but I thought that was not the standard unless the parents are divided.
The opinion against the parents seems largely based on the judge not likely the parents' attitude, and CPS not liking the publicity.