Carmen Ortiz, a federal prosecutor in Massachusetts with a history of highly-criticized political prosecutions – including one that drove a programming prodigy to suicide – is now targeting an anti-child abuse activist for his role in hacking the donation page of Boston Children’s Hospital in 2014.
Martin Gottesfeld, 32, said he only did so to keep the hospital from torturing a teenage girl, whose custody was stripped by the state at the request of the hospital.
Now the Anonymous hacktivist, who has been incarcerated in Rhode Island for nine months, has been on a hunger strike for two months and has lost over 50 pounds. He says he won’t stop until the president-elect addresses the issue of institutionalized child abuse.
After 45 days, death is a real possibility due to risks of cardiovascular collapse or severe infection. He is close to his 60th day if he has not surpassed it.
Previously, Gottesfeld’s activism helped raise awareness about the rampant abuse at the Logan River Academy boarding school after learning about abusive conditions children from his brother-in-law who was a resident there.
Anonymous launched a campaign to shut down Logan and raise awareness about abuse at the residential treatment center for troubled teens. Although the Logan River Academy remains open, the group has brought attention to problems of abuse and corruption within the “troubled teen” industry.
Justina Pelletier–Forcefully Detained and Tortured by the Medical Community
Gottesfeld heard the story about Justina’s Pelletier who was 14-years-old in 2013 when her story made national news.
Lou and Linda Pelletier, Justina’s parents, took Justina to Boston Children’s Hospital after she began having problems eating and walking, among other flu-like symptoms.
Justina had already been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease at Tufts Medical Center and was treated for several years following the diagnosis.
Despite her previous diagnosis, Dr.s at Boston’s Children’s Hospital rediagnosed Justina’s mitochondrial disease, a disease that affects cellular energy production, for a somatoform disorder, a psychological disorder that means “it’s all in your head.”
When Lou and Linda Pelletier objected, Dr.s from BCH’s psychology department claimed the protective parents were invested in the notion their daughter was gravely ill and denied mitochondrial disease even exists. Both parents were diagnosed by the psych staff at BCH as having Munchausen by Proxy, a mental disorder in which parents make up symptoms or intentionally causes an illness or injury to their child in order to garner attention from medical personnel.
Justina’s case was suddenly taken over by the psychiatry department who reported the Pelletiers to the Department of Children and Families. DCF (commonly known as CPS), along with an insistent psych team at Boston Children’s Hospital, took the case before Judge Joseph F. Johnston who awarded custody of Justina to the Massachusetts DCF, ruling Justina had to stay in custody at BCH.
Justina became a ward of the state and was placed in BCH’s psych ward, Bader 5, where she was physically and psychologically abused for about a year.
While at Bader 5, Justina’s painkillers were stopped, which left her in agony. She was deprived of her heart medication, which left her tachycardic. She was told she was a danger to herself, locked in a room and told her family, whose visitation was limited to an hour a week, was part of the problem.
The Pelletiers’ visitation was limited to an hour a week. Visits with their daughter were monitored closely by staff who would terminate phone calls or abruptly end a visit if Justina or her parents spoke about her medical or custody issues.
Justina began to sneak notes, hidden in origami, to tell her family what she wasn’t allowed to say about what was happening to her inside BCH.
Staff at the hospital pushed her to do things she was physically incapable of, refusing to acknowledge her disease. She was laughed at after being left on the toilet for hours, locked secluded in a bare room when she couldn’t void her bowels or sometimes left in a hallway for days because staff refused to believe she could not wheel herself elsewhere.
When she was moved, staff dragged her feet on the floor, ripping her toenails. Justina’s legs were swelled, her hair fell out and her gums receded. She got pneumonia twice. The Pelletiers were never informed.
This continued for over 11 months at BCH.
When the Pelletiers spoke to media pressing for the release of their daughter, Judge Joseph F. Johnston (whose picture has mysteriously disappeared from the internet) placed a gag order on them, specifically prohibiting the parents from speaking to journalists about their daughter’s forced custody or medical situation lest they be jailed.
BCH psych staff and CPS workers told the Pelletiers Justina would never return unless they accepted the diagnosis.
This happens so much at BCH they’ve coined their own term for it “parentectomy.”
Justina’s Condition Declines; Lou Pelletier Breaks Gag Order
In January 2014, Justina was transferred to aptly named “Wayside” Youth and Family Support Network in Framingham, Massachusetts, still a ward of the state, where she was verbally assaulted while nude in the shower.
In February 2014, alarmed by his daughter’s obvious deteriorating medical condition, Lou Pelletier broke the gag order despite of the prospect of being imprisoned.
The story began gaining momentum in the news, but no indication was given that she’d be returned and given the treatment she needed.
Four months went by and Justina had not been returned.
Martin Gottesfeld–a Cyber Defenses Expert
That’s when Martin Gottesfeld, who spent his career building cyber defenses, decided to go on the offensive for the first time.
In June of 2014, Gottesfeld knew BCH’s big donation day was coming up and decided to hit BCH “where they appear to care the most, the pocket book and reputation,” he wrote in a letter from jail published in the Huffington Post.
He knew from his previous career experience as a biotech that hospitals are required by federal law to be able to function without the internet, so no patients would be harmed.
After previous attacks, BCH bragged to the media they were withstanding the attack.
“They had no idea what was to come.”
Gottesfeld coded for two weeks and finished writing the DDoS code just in time for donation day. Since BCH keeps their donation page on the same public network at the rest of their stuff, Gottesfeld’s attacked aimed at knocking the whole hospital off the internet.
The hack ran for several hours then he issued a command to stop the attacks.
“Then, with some donation time still left, I issued the command to stop the attacks—the point had been made. Justina wasn’t defenseless. Under the banner of Anonymous, she and other institutionalized children could and would be protected. There have been no such egregious parentectomies published at BCH since,” Gottesfeld wrote in his letter to Huffington Post.
Now he faces 5 years in prison for the deed of hacking Boston Children’s Hospital’s website on their big donation day, although he remains unapologetic about it.
“I’d rather die than give the government another hacking conviction,” he told the Washington Times.
Gottesfeld argues he’s the target of a political prosecution, and that he didn’t commit a crime. Instead, his actions were aimed at protecting Justina
“I didn’t commit a crime. Defending another human being from possible bodily harm or death is not a crime,” he said in the a recording from jail explaining what he hopes to accomplish with his hunger strike.
“When the judge decided to maintain temporary custody of Justina with the state, the Pelletiers were furious. They took their complaints to every authority they could think of: the district attorney, the attorney general, the governor’s office, even the FBI.” No one intervened to help the family,” wrote the Boston Globe about the Pelletier family.
No one intervened to help the family.
On June 18, 2014, shortly after Gottesfeld took BCH website offline, Justina was returned to her parents.
On February 18, 2016, the Pelletiers filed a lawsuit against BCH for gross negligence, medical malpractice, and civil rights violation against the Dr.s, psychologists and social workers involved in the abuse of their daughter.
A year and a half went by.
He had been under investigation for about a month when on February 17, 2016 Gottesfeld was rescued by a Disney cruise ship after putting out a distress call from his small boat near the coast of Cuba. Federal agents arrested him after the cruise ship ported in Miami. He has been in prison ever since.
Carmen Ortiz — A Prosecutor Run Amok
Now, Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney harshly criticized for prosecuting Aaron Swartz, a co-founder of Reddit who helped developed RSS technology, who developed a script that enabled him to download millions of academic articles stored on the digital academic libarary JSTOR.
Ortiz alleged Swartz planned to make them free to the public, even though she had no hard evidence of it.
JSTOR dropped all charges against Swartz, but Ortiz indicted him for fraud anyway, pursuing charges that carried up to 25 years.
The stress and despair caused by the prospect of imprisonment pushed Swartz into a deep state of depression and despair. Swartz took his life in Janurary of 2013.
A few days after his death, Ortiz wrote in a statement she could “only imagine the pain of friends and family of Swartz, and extended heartfelt sympathy to everyone who knew and loved this young man.”
Now she targets Martin Gottesfeld, who only wanted to stop the abuse of Justina Pelletier when nobody in government would lift a finger. Pelletier has been unable to walk and has been confined to a wheel chair ever since being released from BCH.
PINAC spoke with Dana Gottesfeld, Martin’s wife who told us Martin was moved from Donald Detention Facility in Rhode Island to MCC NY on November 13 after medical staff was unable to persuade him to cease the hunger strike.
Dana said their good deeds have had tragic consequences on their lives.
“Marty is compassionate and loving and brave. He supports wounded warrior, and has opened our home to a homeless survivor of institutional abuse. Now he’s in jail and I haven’t seen him other than at court hearing. At least until MCC ny we could talk on the phone. Now we cant even do that. Its been very stressful. We both lost our jobs and make a fraction of the income now. Marty’s dad became ill and he hasn’t been able to visit him. His birth mom also died while he’s been in prison.”
Martin Gottesfeld appeared in court Monday over a video monitor. He transitioned from a hired attorney to a court appointed attorney.
If you’d like to support Marty’s cause, you can visit the FreeMartyG Facebook page.