A true crime blog with insight, expert analysis and attitude

Feb 27, 2016

The Justina Pelletier farce continues

Photo via Fox News Boston
Here we go again. Justina Pelletier is back in the news after some high profile exposure involving the Children's Hospital of Boston, and accusations of medical child abuse against her own mother. Ever since her parents regained custody of her, she has been back in the hospital at least once, but now her family is back in front of news cameras for a totally different reason.

They plan to sue Boston Children's Hospital.

Apparently it wasn't enough for the Pelletier family to regain custody of their chronically ill daughter -- against the diagnoses and resistance of several medical experts. Now it seems that they are after the cold hard cash, and maybe another 15 minutes of fame.



This family bothers me, and do you want to know why? Because they exhibit all of the same characteristics and behaviors as some other families who were ultimately guilty of medical child abuse. They also made no qualms about politicizing the hell out of their ailing daughter and the experiences they were enduring. From the beginning, their efforts to win back custody of Justina seemed to be powered by the need for attention and sympathy. And there is no question as to why so many conservative talking-heads and politicians jumped to their defense.

Jennifer Bush (8) and her mother Kathleen
As I wrote above, the Pelletier story is a lot like other cases -- in particular, the notorious Kathleen Bush case. In fact, the similarities are downright eerie. Back in the 1990s, Kathleen Bush's daughter Jennifer became a sort of poster child for victims of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. By the age of eight-years-old, Jennifer Bush had gone through more than 40 surgeries and over 200 different stays in various hospitals. The first eight years of this child's life were filled with little more than being poked and prodded by doctors as they tried to figure out what the hell was wrong with her. Meanwhile, Kathleen went on a highly public campaign against high medical care costs -- which even attracted the support of Hillary Clinton, who made at least one high profile visit with the ailing child while she was battling a host of unknown, phantom illnesses.

It took eight years for medical experts to figure out the culprit behind the numerous symptoms suffered by Jennifer Bush. She wasn't battling some mystery illness that kept doctors baffled. She was being poisoned with various medications, which were being administered by her own mother Kathleen Bush. Her mother habitually dosed her daughter with powerful seizure medication -- medication that doctors had long stopped prescribing the child during their search for a diagnosis to her symptoms. Not only had Kathy Bush been illegally overdosing Jennifer with non-prescribed meds, she was accused of putting feces in the child's feeding tubes -- which also kept her gravely ill.

When Jennifer was taken from Kathleen's custody and the woman was formally accused of medical child abuse, this only seemed to embolden the woman's need for public sympathy and attention (the very same benefits she got from keeping her daughter perpetually ill). This further powered her politically-hungry campaign focused on parents' rights as she desperately struggled to maintain the facade of being a "supermom" who was being unfairly targeted.

Here it is approximately 20 years later, and Jennifer Bush (a grown woman now) has reunited with her family, and she foolishly believes that her mother is innocent. Kathy's husband and other children have also stood by her side all these years, passionately defending her as a wonderful mom who'd never do anything to hurt any of them.

Do any of these details ring a bell? They should.

I'm eager to watch this new drama with the Pelletier family play out publicly, as we all know that it will. Just like with the Kathy Bush story, the Pelletiers have been given a taste of publicity from the beginning of the ordeal with Justina. They're thirsty for more of that attention, which is the very same "benefit" that has likely fueled most of Justina's experiences. This girl is a pawn, and I've said for years that she will remain in danger for as long as she's under the care and influence of her mother and father.



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