Posted on | November 11, 2012 | 12 Comments
If you’re like me, your TV viewing is limited almost entirely to news, more news, documentaries and old movies, which means you don’t watch network primetime shows, and therefore have never heard of Ariel Winter. She is a 14-year-old actress who stars in the ABC comedy Modern Family, which is one of the network’s most popular shows, with an audience of more than 12 million viewers.
Like most of you — we’re all political news junkies here, right? — I was only vaguely aware that this TV show existed and had never heard of Ariel Winter at all until last week when the tabloid sites like TMZ started going nuts about an ugly custody battle involving Winter, her mother and Winter’s older sister.
A California court ordered Ariel removed from her family home because of accusations that her mother physically abused her:
[O]n October 3rd, after a guardianship hearing, a judge determined the allegations that Ariel was being physically and emotionally abused by her mother Chrystal Workman were serious enough that the judge placed Ariel in a temporary guardianship with her older sister Shanelle Workman. . . .
Ironically, we’ve learned Shanelle suffered the same alleged abuse as Ariel. Nearly two decades ago, the Department of Children and Family Services removed her from Chrystal’s home based on similar abuse allegations. Law enforcement sources tell us … D.C.F.S. placed Shanelle in foster care for more than 2 years. She never went back to her mother.
OK, this is serious stuff. But there is another side of the story: Ariel has reportedly been dating an 18-year-old actor named Cameron Palatas and, according to Ariel’s mother, the two young lovebirds were, um, inappropriately intimate:
The mother of Modern Family star Ariel Winter filed an incident report with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department after she allegedly caught her 14-year-old daughter engaged in a sexual act with an 18-year-old man.
The police filing — obtained exclusively by Celebuzz — details “suspicious circumstances, possible unlawful sex with minor,” according to the officer who spoke to Chris Workman, Winter’s mother, on October 6. . . .
“On 09-24-12, at approximately 2200-hours, she walked in the guest bedroom of her home and found her daughter, Ariel Winter Workman, in bed with boyfriend, [Name Redacted],” the three-page report claims.
Workman told the Sheriff explicit details about what she saw when she walked into the room at her Montrose, Calif. home. . . .
“According to the informant, Ariel and [Name Redacted] have been boyfriend/girlfriend for approximately 5 months. She has attempted to break them up because of their age difference.” . . .
In an earlier statement on Thursday, Workman claimed her teenage daughter’s relationship with the man, four years her senior, was the real reason behind the young actress’ decision to ask a judge to temporarily place her in her sister’s care. . . .
Workman told Celebuzz she “caught them engaging in behavior that I feel my daughter is too young mentally and physically to understand.”
“I put a stop to it immediately,” Workman said.
“I filed charges against him because legally he is an adult and if he wants to engage in adult behavior with a minor than he should also be ready to suffer adult consequences for his actions and poor judgment.”
The gossip site makes a big deal of not naming Ariel’s boyfriend, but it’s not exactly a secret, per this Newark Star-Ledger headline:
So we have Ariel accusing her mom of abuse and Ariel’s mom accusing Palatas of robbing the cradle, and all of this lurid stuff involving the young star of one of TV’s most popular sitcoms is being played out daily in the gossip headlines.
TMZ seems intent on making Ariel’s mom the villain in the story, implying that she just made up the sex allegation after she lost custody, but as a parent — and having once also been a teenage boy — I’m decidedly more sympathetic to the mother’s side of the dispute.
All in all, this story does not bode well for Ariel Winter’s future and, having watched similar dramas play out in the cases of former teen stars like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, I’d say we’re just a few years away from seeing headlines along the lines of “Ariel Winter gets another DUI” and “Ariel Winter goes back to rehab.”
On TV, Modern Family is a comedy. In real life, not so much.