FRAMINGHAM — About 40 supporters of Connecticut parents who are locked in a custody battle with Massachusetts child protection officials rallied Saturday afternoon outside a Framingham care center where the couple’s daughter, 15-year-old Justina Pelletier, is staying.
“This is part of the overall national campaign to free Justina,” said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a family spokesman and head of the Washington-based Christian Defense Coalition, which organized the event. “When Justina is returned back to her family, we want her to know that there were scores standing with her who believed in this cause and came out to stand in solidarity with her.”
The case drew widespread attention after the Globe reported in December that the state took custody of Pelletier at the behest of Boston Children’s Hospital, which then kept her in a locked psychiatric ward for nearly a year. Doctors at Children’s thought Pelletier’s medical problems were largely psychiatric and not the result of mitochondrial disorder, an earlier working diagnosis made by doctors at Tufts Medical Center and supported by Pelletier’s parents.
The state Department of Children and Families, under pressure following a series of high-profile scandals, indicated Friday it was now trying to return Pelletier to Connecticut and allow her future medical care to be overseen by Tufts Medical Center.
Participants in the rally, some of whom drove hours from nearby states to attend, held signs reading, “FREE JUSTINA,” and cheered Mahoney as he gave an animated interview to television reporters.
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