Father Could Be Held In Contempt For Speaking Out Against 15-Year-Old’s Year-Long Commitment To Psych Ward

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A Massachusetts father defied a gag order to speak out about his 15-year-old daughter who entered the hospital with what seemed like the flu and ended up involuntarily committed to a psych ward without her parents' approval for the last year.

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families filed to have Lou Pelletier held in contempt of court for telling the media about his daughter, who was taken away from him in February 2013.

Justina Pelletier's family believes she has mitochondrial disease, just like her older sister. She was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease – a genetic disorder that affects how cells produce energy – by doctors at Tufts Medical Center.

But when she went to Boston Children’s Hospital on Feb. 10, 2013, a neurologist said Justina is mentally ill. Without reviewing her history, he said her symptoms of mitochondrial disease are psychosomatic.

Her parents were open to new treatment until they learned the hospital wanted to take away all of Justina’s pain medication.

Astounded, her parents attempted to take her back to Tufts for treatment. That’s when Boston Children’s Hospital called the police.

“I have a right as a U.S. citizen to take my daughter to what doctor I want to, and it’s been taken away,” her mother, Linda Pelletier, told Fox.

Now her parents are involved in a legal battle to regain custody of their daughter one year after the DCF took her away on Feb. 14, 2013.

Lou could be slapped with hefty fines if he is found in contempt, but he says he doesn’t care. The family has turned to the court of public opinion to set Justina free.

“I need to save my daughter. It’s not this courthouse. It’s not the state of Massachusetts,” Lou Pelletier told TheBlaze. “If we don’t do something, she is going to die.”

Her family says she is wasting away without treatment for mitochondrial disease. After being treated for somatoform disorder and overmedication for the past year, it is unclear whether her doctors believe Justina is showing improvement. 

"Every procedure she had done was not pushed by us, but by the medical community. Insurance never would have covered it if it were not medically necessary,” Lou said.

The Boston Children’s Hospital defends their doctors and staff.

“We are proud of their work and positive impact on the patient," the statement read. “[O]ur clinicians are particularly distressed that the inaccuracies surrounding this case have caused undo concern for the many children and their families with mitochondrial disorders in our care. Misleading reports suggesting that the hospital holds patients in its inpatient psychiatric unit do not recognize the role of DCF as the legal guardian or the challenges inherent in finding appropriate lower acuity facilities for certain patients.”

Sources: TheBlaze, New York Daily News