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'Modern Family' actress to remain with adult sister for now

Ariel Winter accuses her mother of inflicting ongoing physical and mental abuse. A trial to determine whether the sister gains permanent guardianship has been scheduled.

November 21, 2012|Los Angeles Times
  • Ariel WInter accuses her mother of "on-going physical abuse (slapping, hitting, pushing) and emotional abuse (vile name-calling, personal insults about minor and minor's weight, attempts to sexualize minor, deprivation of food etc.)"
Ariel WInter accuses her mother of "on-going physical abuse (slapping,… (Richard Shotwell / Associated…)

Teen actress Ariel Winter of "Modern Family" will remain with her sister under temporary guardianship, and a trial has been scheduled to decide her future home, a judge ruled Tuesday.

L.A. County Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said a county Department of Children and Family Services report found that allegations that Winter's mother emotionally abused her were substantiated, while the department found physical abuse allegations inconclusive.

The judge on Oct. 3 temporarily stripped Chrisoula Workman of custody of her daughter. Winter, through her sister's attorney, alleged in a court filing that she was subject to ongoing physical and mental abuse by her mother. Workman has denied all accusations of abuse and filed more than two dozen declarations from friends, acquaintances, stylists and others saying they never witnessed any abuse.

"I would love to have my daughter home," Workman said outside of court Tuesday. "I love her with all my heart."

Winter's father, Glenn Workman, also filed an objection to the guardianship late Monday, stating that he wants a better relationship with his daughter and would be willing to care for her. He is currently not living with Chrisoula Workman.

Winter, 14, has been in the care of her adult sister, Shanelle Gray, who was also removed from Chrisoula Workman's care in the 1990s amid accusations of abuse.

Winter has been acting since she was 7 and currently stars as Alex Dunphy on the hit ABC series "Modern Family."

"Minor Ariel Workman has been a victim of on-going physical abuse (slapping, hitting, pushing) and emotional abuse (vile name-calling, personal insults about minor and minor's weight, attempts to sexualize minor, deprivation of food etc.) for an extended period of time by the minor's mother, Chrisoula Workman," her attorneys said in a petition for guardianship.

A trial to determine whether Gray gains permanent guardianship of her sister has been scheduled for Dec. 12. But Levanas said the case would be removed from his courtroom if the Department of Children and Family Services filed its own case.

"I am sure this family is going to get better," the judge said.

Three days after Winter, whose real name is Ariel Workman, took legal action to split from her mother, Chrisoula Workman reported to the sheriff's Crescenta Valley station that her daughter's boyfriend had had unlawful sex with the underage actress.

Chrisoula Workman contends that she discovered her daughter in the guest bedroom of her Montrose home on Sept. 24 in bed with a young man, believed to be 18, according to sources not authorized to discuss the investigation.

The young man was described as the teenage actress' boyfriend of several months, according to the sources, who also said the teenagers have denied doing anything unlawful.

Outside court Tuesday, Winter's brother Jimmy Workman said his teenage sister "doesn't want rules and wants to be able to date" whom she wishes. He said he hopes his sister will be reunited with their parents.

andrew.khouri@latimes.com

Times Staff Writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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