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Justina Pelletier’s Father Speaks Out About Custody Battle For First Time

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WBZ-TV's Ken McLeod Ken MacLeod
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BOSTON (CBS) – For the first time, the father of Justina Pelletier, the teen at the center of a custody battle with Massachusetts, is speaking out. The gag order has been lifted. That means Lou Pelletier can talk about his family’s nightmare this last year and his new mission. The Connecticut father went to the Massachusetts State House Thursday afternoon, determined to make lawmakers listen.

“I will not stop until this nonsense comes to an end,” Pelletier told WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod. “DCF takes control of somebody and you just fall into this deep rabbit hole and there’s no way out.”

Justina was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by Tufts, only to have Children’s Hospital cast aside that finding — and then take custody of the teen for a year with the blessing of DCF and a judge — insisting her problems were psychiatric and not physical.

Justina Pelletier (WBZ-TV)

Justina Pelletier (WBZ-TV)

“This 13 month experiment that Boston Children’s Hospital has done did not work in fact it just about killed her,” Pelletier says.

The Pelletiers are now on the verge of regaining some control over Justina’s treatment albeit with strings attached. Lou Pelletier asked lawmakers how parents can essentially be accused of child abuse and their daughter legally wrestled away simply because of a disagreement over her diagnosis.

“She did much better under the care of her parents, than under DCF and government,” says Reverend Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition. “The legislature needs to get involved with this and not step back.”

State Rep. Paul Heroux (D-North Attleboro) got the Pelletier’s version Thursday and wants more. “Due process would say both sides should be heard before judgment’s made,” Heroux says.

The Pelletiers would like to see the process that has engulfed their daughter rethought from square one with whatever legal changes arise, perhaps taking on Justina’s name.

“We’ve allowed Boston Children’s, and DCF and this judge to do things that no family should ever have to go through again,” Pelletier says.

They argue that an infamous accused killer has enjoyed more privileges in jail this last year than their daughter. “If the Boston bomber is being treated better than my daughter, Justina Pelletier, I think that speaks volumes,” he says.

The Pelletier family has only been allowed to visit Justina for an hour each week. She was recently moved from Children’s to the Wayside psychiatric facility in Framingham. But at a March 17th hearing, she might be moved to Connecticut — much closer to home — with her original Tufts doctor reclaiming oversight of her medical care.

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