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‘Permanent’ custody of Justina Pelletier awarded to state of Massachusetts

Linda and Lou Pelletier with 15-year-old Justina.
Linda and Lou Pelletier with 15-year-old Justina.

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A long-running child custody case took a dramatic turn Tuesday, when a Massachusetts juvenile court judge awarded permanent custody of teenager Justina Pelletier to the state Department of Children and Families.

The ruling by Judge Joseph Johnston means the 15-year-old will probably stay in state custody until her 18th birthday unless her parents can prove they are fit to care for their child.

The judge’s four-page decision, which was provided to the Globe, was remarkable for its detail and forcefulness. Johnston faulted Connecticut’s child protection agency for its failure to get involved in a case involving a child from its state, and Pelletier’s parents for their verbally abusive manner and haphazard decision-making that he says has has sabotaged plans to move their daughter closer to home.

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