Justina Pelletier, the Connecticut teen who has been held in state custody for over a year because her doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital disagreed with a prior diagnosis, allegedly wrote a heartbreaking letter to her parents describing the situation she’s been dealing with.
Pelletier, 15, was brought to Boston Children’s by her parents after she was experiencing debilitating physical symptoms that had doctors struggling to treat. Past doctors had already diagnosed the teen with mitochondrial disease a few years ago, but doctors at Boston Children’s decided that the symptoms were all psychological, and they went so far as to accuse her parents of child abuse. Doctors said they believed that Linda and Lou Pelletier were making Pelletier believe she had symptoms that she didn’t actually have, so they were able to convince the state to take custody of the teen. That was over a year ago.
Since then, Linda and Lou have only been allowed to have one-hour supervised visits with their daughter once a week, and they’ve ben relentlessly fighting to regain custody ever since.
The note, which was reportedly written by Pelletier to her parents, outlines the troubling environment that the teen is currently living in at a facility set up by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
“They hurt me all the time push me all the time and more,” the note says. “They do not let me sleep vary [sic] much. Hury [sic]!”
Rev. Patrick Mahoney, spokesperson for the Pelletier family, explained in a statement why they decided to publicize the letter.
“This shocking note reveals for the first time, in Justina’s own words, how she is being abused by Massachusetts DCF,” said Mahoney in the statement. “The Pelletiers are devastated to see how their daughter is being mistreated while under the custody of the State of Massachusetts. Justina’s own words paint a picture of mistreatment by DCF that we can see for ourselves. Fourteen months ago, when she was removed from her home, she was taking part in ice-skating competitions and living an active life. Under the care of DCF, she is in now a wheelchair and can barely walk. She has not been allowed to attend church, and has not been given her individualized education program which is required by federal law.”
Lawyers for the Pelletier family filed another appeal last week to the Supreme Judicial Court in an attempt to regain custody of their daughter after over a year.
“This case comes down to the simple fact that new doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital, who had no experience with Justina, came up with a different diagnosis than her expert treating physicians at Tufts Medical Center,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, in a statement. “The state cannot take children from their parents when the parents make reasonable choices for their medical care. This case is outrageous.”
The Department of Children and Families have yet to comment on the note.
Last week, a video surfaced on social media showing a woman on a Philadelphia bus nodding off while her young daughter attempted to prop her up. The disturbing clip quickly went viral, and now, the Department of Human Services says the young girl has been taken away from her mother.
The Daily News first reported that the girl was taken away, and according to their report, the mother, who is not currently being identified, took to Facebook to express her anger over the situation.
“During the weekend, the little girl was removed from her mother's home by DHS workers,” wrote Daily News reporter David Gambacorta. “The mother, whom the Daily News is not identifying because she has not been charged with a crime, posted this update on Facebook: ‘I f------ hope all you skumbags [sic] out there are f------ happy,’ she wrote. ‘I just lost the best thing in the world to me all because ppl [sic] think before they open there [sic] mouths!’”
When the video first surfaced, Opposing Views reported that SEPTA Police Chief Tom Nestel was very concerned that nobody on the bus at that time called police or reported it to the bus driver.
"When you have a person doing the 'heroin nod' and a little girl is trying to hold her head up, that's horrifying," said Nestel. "There's very little reason why 15 calls to 911 weren't received. I don't think there's anyone who can watch that and say, 'Ah, that's a shame,' and just walk away."
The woman depicted in the video has not been arrested or charged with anything as of now, but police spokesman Lt. John Stanford says the DHS is investigating possible criminal wrongdoing.
"DHS will ultimately take the lead on opening a file and investigating deeper into this family and the situation," said Stanford. "If their investigation reveals any criminal activity, then our Special Victims Unit will work with them and proceed accordingly."
Dmitriy Kanarikov, 35, walked into a New York City apartment building with his 3-year-old son, went up to the roof, and threw his son off the 52-story building before jumping off himself. Kanarikov was pronounced dead at the scene, and the young boy was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The NYPD says they received frantic reports of two people jumping off of a high-rise building on Sunday morning, and when they arrived, they discovered the bodies on the rooftops of two separate nearby buildings. According to witness accounts, the 3-year-old boy was wearing Christmas pajamas.
Reports claim that Kanarikov and the boy’s mother were in a custody battle over their son, but that the mother had full custody. Kanarikov did have visitation rights, however, and was apparently supposed to return his son to the mother Sunday afternoon.
When the toddler was brought to the hospital, witness Luis Ortiz said that he could tell the doctors were trying to do everything they could to save him.
"You could tell he was slipping away," said Ortiz. "They said the father was up there, but they didn't bring anyone else in. It was just heartbreaking. I have two kids of my own. They tried to do the best they could."
The building, South Park Tower, appeared to be random because authorities say that the man didn't live there. The NYPD is currently investigating the tragic murder-suicide.
Justina Pelletier, 15, went into Boston Children’s Hospital with a case of the flu. That was nine months ago, and the hospital still refuses to release her to her parents.
“It is kidnapping,” said father Lou Pelletier in an interview with WTIC-TV.
Justina had been diagnosed with a genetic disorder called mitochondrial disease several years ago. The condition causes weakness and reduced muscle coordination, but Justina still enjoyed a normal life.
When she caught the flu, her parents took her to the hospital to see a specialist. The doctors claimed that Justina actually had somatoform disorder, a psychiatric illness, and the hospital has detained her ever since.
“They came in, and they said we cannot take Justina out of the hospital. They called DCF,” says Justina’s mother, Linda Pelletier.
The hospital doctor said that Justina was exhibiting “regressive behavior” and that “both parents’ [showed] resistance towards recommended treatment plans.”
The parents were escorted from the hospital by security guards, and have lost custody of their daughter. “They were actually being accused of being too active in pursuing healthcare matters for their child,” says Dean Hokanson, a psychologist who has been treating Justina for five years.
Justina’s parents simply want to have their daughter home, and for her to continue the course of treatment recommended by her previous physicians. One of those physicians, Tufts Medical Center specialist Dr. Mark Korson, wrote in an e-mail, “I am dismayed. … It feels like Justina’s treatment team is out to prove the diagnosis at all costs. … The [Boston Children’s Hospital] team has demanded that Justina be removed from the home. … This represents the most severe and intrusive intervention a patient can undergo … for a clinical hunch.”
Justina’s parents are now only allowed to see her one hour per week, and can speak to her on the phone twice per week. Justina still sneaks them notes, folded in origami.