A group of Connecticut legislators is pushing for the immediate return of West Hartford teen, Justina Pelletier, directly to her family.
The family’s spokesman, Rev. Patrick Mahoney, says he’ll meet with Congressmen in Washington, DC, next week, discussing whether any federal laws have been violated.
Her family says her “individual education plan” (IEP) that she had in West Hartford at the Ben Bronze Academy was not kept in place while she’s been hospitalized in Boston. They also say she’s missed Christmas Eve, Christmas and Easter masses and been denied access to a Priest.
Connecticut State Senator Joe Markley (R- Waterbury), held a press conference at the Capitol Wednesday morning, announcing a letter he’s drafted to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz, calling for the return of Justina Pelletier directly to her parents.
“Massachusetts DCF has been under tremendous pressure on this case and they’ve come forward with nothing to indict this family,” said Markley.
He addressed the letter more specifically as well.
“Encouraging Commissioner Katz at the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, not to repeat the long bureaucratic process that the Pelletier family just went through in Massachusetts but to turn custody of this young back to her parents in West Hartford.”
Amid increasing media coverage of the case, Massachusetts DCF last week, expressed a willingness to return Pelletier to Connecticut, but did not specify exactly what that would entail.
The 15-year-old West Hartford girl was admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital in February 2013, where a disagreement about medical diagnoses led to accusations of abuse against her parents, who lost custody of Justina within four days and haven’t had it since then.
“I’m going to be meeting with members of Congress to consider oversight hearings because clearly federal laws have been broken in the treatment and care of Justina,” said Rev. Patrick Mahoney.
Rev. Mahoney, who started the newly formed “Free Justina” campaign with Keith Mason, of “Personhood USA”, says the teen’s federal rights have been violated when it comes to education and religion.
He also addressed the lingering concerns that many still have about what details may be missing from the story.
“It’s easier for us to want to believe or wrap our brains around the fact that a family is mistreating their child than the alternative to that… and the alternative to that is what has happened in this case…and that is with impunity, government agencies and courts have removed a child from the loving care of their parents,” said Rev. Mahoney.
Meanwhile, Rep. Markley said a dozen legislators are backing his letter, which he will present to Connecticut’s DCF Commissioner on Friday.
“Some good progress was made this past Monday, but we’re a long way to go to get across the finish line,” said Justina’s father, Lou Pelletier.
Pelletier also addressed Fox CT’s coverage of the case, which began on Nov. 18th 2013, with the first report on the matter.
“I want to God Bless Beau Berman here in the audience, because if it wasn’t for him breaking this story, my daughter today, could be deceased. It started the groundswell to pick up.”
Connecticut’s DCF sent Fox CT a statement Wednesday after the press conference.
“The Department of Children and Families understands the great pain and anguish that the Pelletier family has gone through over the course of their long ordeal. Our hearts go out to Justina, her parents, and the entire family. We too believe that children belong with their families whenever it is in the child’s best interest. Connecticut DCF has had communication with the Pelletier family and will continue to make efforts to be of assistance as Massachusetts authorities go through their process of deciding if Justina can return home. We also are assisting the Massachusetts authorities in gathering information in support of that decision making process,” wrote Spokesman Gary Kleeblatt.
Lou Pelletier will speak before the Massachusetts House of Representatives Thursday at 3:30pm.
In that state, 23 legislators are now supporting a resolution to release Justina Pelletier to her family immediately.
The next courtroom custody hearing is March 17th in Boston.