BOSTON, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) --Lou Pelletier, the father of 15-year-old teenager Justina Pelletier is speaking out against a Tuesday ruling in which a judge gave permanent custody to Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
A juvenile court judge ruled that the Department of Children and Families has "permanent" custody of Justina, until May 25, according to the Pelletier family's attorney, Matt Staver.
"She needs to be home," Lou told FOX 25's Maria Stephanos. "She is mentally, and more importantly physically, dying under the care of the state of Massachusetts."
On May 25, the judge will then revisit the issue of who is granted custody of Justina in another follow-up court hearing.
Staver said the Pelletier family will now pursue an appeal to send the case to a higher court.
"This is not justice for Justina, or the family," Staver said.
The Connecticut teen was treated at Children's Hospital in Boston for almost a year and was previously in Children's locked psychiatric unit for treatment.
Pelletier was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease years ago – a condition causing muscle pain and weakness. Then, almost a year ago, she was admitted to Children's with the flu.
At the hospital, her parents say a different set of doctors diagnosed her with "somatoform disorder," in short, saying she suffered from a mental illness, not mitochondrial disease, and that her symptoms were psychologically induced. The hospital took her off all of her medications, Lou Pelletier said.
When her parents reportedly disagreed and asked for a second opinion, they lost custody of their daughter. DCF was called in after just four days. The parents haven't had custody since last February.
"Based on credible psychiatric and medical evidence this court has found that Justina suffers from a persistent and severe Somatic Symptom Disorder," the judge stated.
In December, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families determined that Justina's parents, Linda and Lou, neglected Justina, and that "return of custody of Justina to her parents was not in her best interest."
Justina's parents, the judge continued, "engage in very concerning conduct that does not give this court any confidence they will comply with conditions of custody."
The decision finished by stating that the judge is ready to help return Justina to her "home state of Connecticut," but did not specify whether that meant her home, or a placement in a Conn. DCF facility.
The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families released a statement on the judge's ruling on Tuesday evening.
"DCF's primary goal has always been the health and wellbeing of Justina, and finding a solution that would allow her to return to Connecticut. That has not changed in the face of this ruling," the statement read. "The Department is exploring all options that will allow Justina to return to her home state where she has the support of her friends, family, school and community."
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