Special Report: Stolen by the State?

Published: Feb. 12, 2015 at 10:51 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 13, 2015 at 5:40 PM HST
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Chantel de Jetley
Chantel de Jetley
Tony de Jetley
Tony de Jetley
David Hipp
David Hipp

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Caroline and Tony de Jetley live in Hana. Their 17-year-old daughter is thousands of miles away in a mainland therapeutic facility for troubled girls.

The de Jetley's said as a child their daughter, Chantel, was funny, energetic and outgoing. But as she grew older, she got into trouble.

"She continued to run away. The problems escalated. They got worse. The problem became worse," Tony said.

Two years ago, Family Court committed Chantel to the custody of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility. Last July HYCF moved her to Falcon Ridge Ranch in Utah, a residential treatment center. The state gave the de Jetley's advance notice, but they did not consent or wave their parental rights.

"I didn't agree to having her go to another state so far away from us, being that this isn't even a locked facility, being that she's a runaway," Caroline said.

"They completely took her away from us. They kidnapped her." Tony said. Office of Youth Services director David Hipp refused to discuss Chantel's case with Hawaii News Now, citing confidentiality concerns. But in a family court document defending his decision, he said, "Chantel's placement at the Utah facility is in her best interest" and "The services Chantel needs...are not available at HYCF."

The de Jetleys said they've told Hipp he's wrong about their daughter.

"Every single service she's getting in Utah could have been provided to her right here in Hawaii," Tony said. "Both her mother and I said, 'No! We do not agree to this transfer. We do not want our daughter crossing state lines.'"

Chantel suffers from Oppositional Defiant Disorder and PTSD. She takes mood stabilizing medications. The de Jetleys said in October Falcon Ridge gave her a new drug that triggered a potentially fatal reaction. She was in intensive care. Her parents said no one called them when she was sent to the hospital.

"We had no idea. She snuck a message to us via Facebook," Tony said. "She's so far away and I wasn't able to be there for her," Caroline said.

Doctors diagnosed Chantel with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a potentially fatal allergic reaction to the different mood stabilizing medication.

"They gave her a drug she should have never received. And now she's critically ill. No! That's wrong," Tony said.

The de Jetleys said medical records show their daughter had been in far more danger than the state admits.

"The state in its original call to us, after we called them, plain lied to us," Tony said.

In his court statement Hipp said Chantel is "experiencing emotional healing and growth at the facility, not harm."

But Chantel's own words seem to contradict that. In a letter Caroline kept, Chantel wrote, "as you can probably tell I'm beyond miserable."

A text message shows even more desperation. Chantel said she hates Falcon Ridge Ranch, calling the facility "messed up." The de Jetleys said Falcon Ridge has now severed communication with their daughter.

In a phone call they recorded after Chantel got out of the hospital, she told her parents she felt better. But when the conversation turned to her coming back to Hawaii, a Falcon Ridge therapist cut it off.

"They won't allow her to receive phone calls from us. She's unable to call us," Tony said.

Hipp said in a statement to Hawaii News Now, "Parents are asked to participate in their child's treatment plan."

The de Jetley's said Falcon Ridge will let them visit but only if they agree not to criticize the facility and to participate in the program. They refuse to do that.

"I want to know that my daughter's okay. I want to hear her. I want to talk to her," Caroline said. "What they're doing is not right."

A judge ruled the de Jetleys have no legal right to challenge the state decision. Their story led to a Senate proposal to require parental consent for HYCF to send a youth out of state.

"The courts aren't helping with the solutions. They're creating bigger problems," Tony said.

Chantel is nearing the end of her sentence. She turns 18 in May.

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