Dr. Alice Newton, Director of Boston Children's Hospital child protection team, determined in February 2013 that the institution's newly-admitted patient, Justina Pelletier, was a victim of medical child abuse .
Those unfamiliar with this terminology might think that a doctor or doctors had provided injurious care. In one respect they would be correct but the most important aspect of the charge is that the parents or the child's caregiver were the instigators. The psychiatric community posits that some guardians create disease symptoms to persuade the medical community to act inappropriately.
The medical child abuse allegation is specious but it is the basis for child custody hearings and suspension of parental rights throughout the country. Because many adjudicators, like Judge Johnston, gag order the proceedings the number of children taken from parents remains confidential.
The reason the public knows about the Justina Pelletier custody dispute is the parents disobeyed the court's order.
Once the child is under state jurisdiction the protection agency may then legally place its ward in clinical trials. It is not uncommon for children under state jurisdiction to be prescribed psychotropic drugs to help them adapt to their new circumstances. It is not known whether BCH has Justina on behavior-altering substances but since she has been incarcerated in psychiatric facilities, part of her
regimen would likely include these calming but potentially harmful agents.
Are Dr. Alice Newton and Judge Joseph Johnston Guilty of Medical Child Abuse?
The Boston Globe's extensive coverage of the Justina Pelletier case raise troubling questions on the part of the hospital's care and treatment of their patient. One of which is, why did the evaluation staff immediately dismiss her entering mitochondrial diagnosis and want to initiate treatment for a psychological disorder?
Unknown to the parents, BCH had petitioned the state for custody based on Dr. Newton's medical child abuse theory and as improbable as it may seem, these events occurred in a three day period.
The Pelletier intervention/custody papers filed by Boston Children's Hospital under Dr. Newton's name alleged that mitochondrial disease is a suspect illness. Dr. Newton also claimed that the cecostomy button surgery performed on Justina by Tufts Medical was an unwarranted procedure. These are misleading complaints because Boston Children's Hospital treats mitochondrial disorders and performs cecostomy button procedures. Judge Johnston based his opinion on refutable and easily obtainable information.
Dr. Newton, as the newspaper points out, never interviewed the parents or her patient before making her custody petition. Judge Johnston also did not choose to meet with fourteen-year old Justina before separating her from her parents.
While under Judge Johnston's watch, Boston Children's Hospital was allowed to confine Justina to its psychiatric ward for eight months. In fact the court gave the hospital carte blanche. The child protection team altered Justina's medications, forbade contact with prior Tufts Medical physicians, severely limited parental visits, and provided no educational or religious support. The Globe cites five other examples of Boston Children's Hospital attempts to take custody of their patients through the juvenile court system.
Dr. Newton told Judge Johnston that Justina was exhibiting symptoms of a psychological illness induced by her parents. In Dr. Newton's opinion Justina was suffering from somatic symptom disorder. Dr. Newton's snap—somatic symptom disorder—judgment should have given the court cause for concern because SSD requires long-term evaluation to arrive at a probable diagnosis.
Psychiatrist Allen J. Frances, former chair of the '94 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual warned in 2012 that the somatic symptom disorder, as formalized in DSM-5, is subject to inflated diagnosis and may penalize parents who are:
considered 'excessively concerned' about a child's symptoms. Families caring for children with any chronic illness may be placed at risk of wrongful accusation of 'over-involvement' with their child's symptomatology or of encouraging 'sick role behavior.'Because there is no evidence to support Dr. Newton's allegations or Judge Johnston's rulings these professionals have diminished credibility and should not be allowed to handle child custody issues.
There is a back story as to why Boston Children's Hospital is in the business of seizing children. Some medical child abuse critics have suggested a profit—fill-the-beds—motive but this charge would be difficult to prove.
The Globe reports that the Justina Medical Experiment venue is changing. Justina will be held by the JRI Susan Wayne Center for Excellence in Thompson, CT., but Massachusetts will remain her custodian. The Justice Review Institute, owner of the Susan Wayne Center for Excellence, is described as a therapeutic service provider.
Judge Johnston is insistent that Lou and Linda Pelletier receive counseling for their wayward behavior. In all fairness Judge Johnston and Dr. Alice Newton should be required to do the same.
The Boston Globe: "A medical collision with a child in the middle"
The Boston Globe: " Frustration on all fronts in struggle over child’s future "