Judge Joseph Johnston signed an order today releasing Justina to the custody of her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier. “I find that the parties have shown by credible evidence that circumstances have changed since the adjudication on Dec. 20, 2013, that Justina is a child in need of care and protection,” he wrote in his decision.
Johnston is the same judge who granted the state of Massachusetts permanent custody of Justina in April.
“We are thrilled that Justina will finally be returning home tomorrow,” Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver said. “The family looks forward to putting this 16-month nightmare behind them.”
The reversal comes just after the teenager spent an unsupervised visit on Father's Day at her parents' home in West Hartford, Connecticut.
The 16-year-old's saga began when she was diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder at Tufts University Medical Center. But after her parents took her to Boston Children's Hospital for treatment, officials said the condition was psychosomatic – a psychologically induced disorder caused by her parents.
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The Department of Children and Families stepped in, legally stripping Lou and Linda of custody of their child and, the parents say, denying her the medical treatment she needed.
DCF's legal custody ends at midnight, thanks to Johnston's order.
Staver said that Justina and her family will “now begin the process of healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”