Protesters gather outside state facility housing Justina Pelletier
(FOX25 / MyFoxBoston) Crystal Haynes
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- On the heels of a disturbing allegation by the Pelletier family, protesters were out Sunday picketing the state facility where Justina Pelletier has been placed.
With steadfast resolution for weeks in a row, protesters lined Route 9 in Framingham in protest of the Department of Children and Families’ custody of Justina Pelletier.
More than a dozen people picketed just yards away from the Wayside Youth & Family Support Network facility in Framingham, where Justina has been placed by the state.
"Justina could be any of our children. She could be my daughter, your daughter, anybody's daughter,” said one protestor, Melissa Kerins. “It's important to let people know that this is not okay."
The 15-year-old was taken into DCF custody in February 2013 after a dispute over her medical diagnoses at Boston Children's Hospital.
In March, a judge ordered the state take over permanent custody.
Justina's family says her medical condition has deteriorated since, and recently they have accused staff at Wayside of harassing the teen while she was naked in the shower.
The Pelletiers told FOX 25’s Crystal Haynes that they're prepared to take the facility itself to court.
“We have witnesses and they will be taken to court and the full extent of the law will incur on them,” said Lou Pelletier, Justina’s father. “Just like DCF, just like Boston Children’s, any state employee. Any state employee that has done harm; has witnessed harm is as much a part of the problem as anybody else.”
Wayside denied any misconduct. In a statement to FOX 25, a spokesperson for the facility stated that “Wayside is confident that all the care we provide is appropriate and meets the medical and mental health needs of the young people under our supervision. We strongly deny any allegations of abuse and believe that any third party review of our care would support this position.”
But Linda Pelletier, Justina’s mother, said Justina isn’t making it up.
“My daughter has never lied in her life. She's petrified. And I have inside sources,” Linda said. “People have come forward and seen it with their own eyes. So if they want to fight that they can go to court.”
Justina’s sister, Jennifer, was also at the protest on Sunday.
“I don't get how any of these people can continue to treat and harm a child this way,” Jennifer Pelletier said. “And for them to go along with this, they're just as bad as Boston Children's Hospital, just as bad as Massachusetts DCF, just as bad as Governor Patrick for letting this go on in this state.”
Last week, Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz submitted a letter to FOX 25 saying Justina should return home to her family to get the care and support that she needs.
The letter also says the court, and not DCF, has the final say in custody matters.
The Pelletiers said they are meeting with Polanowicz Monday to talk about more visitation with Justina.
The state has custody of Justina until May 25, when her case will be reviewed by a judge again.