• Two Mass. reps ask DCF to release Justina Pelletier


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) – Representative Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) and Jim Lyons (R-Andover) are looking to have Justina Pelletier, the teen involved in a high profile custody case, released from DCF custody.

    Lombardo and Lyons are circulating a Resolution of the House of Representatives, which asks DCF to start the process of releasing Pelletier to her parents.

    "The self-stated goal of the Department of Children and Families is to strengthen the link between families. Removing a child from her family is reserved for only the most egregious circumstances where evidence of malicious intent, negligence or the blatant inability to care for the child is present. No such findings are present in this case," Lombardo said in a release.

    Justina will remain custody of the Department of Children and Families in foster care until her family's next court date, scheduled for March 17.

    Pelletier's family appeared in court Monday to file motions to deny contempt and vacate a gag order. The family was visibly upset at the court appearance. Justina's mother, Linda Pelletier, was seen laying on the ground crying.

    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.

    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.

    "The Pelletier case is a dispute between conflicting medical opinions," Lyons said in a release. "In my opinion, the decision on which medical treatment to adopt should rest with the parents, not with DCF. The Department's heavy-handed, unjustified interference with the rights of these parents is an example of what is wrong with this agency."

    The Resolution will be offered at the next Mass. House of Representatives session.

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