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Bizarre Drama Surrounds Teenage ‘Modern Family’ Starlet Ariel Winter

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:

More ‘Family’ drama: Ariel Winter’s
boyfriend Cameron Palatas targeted by mom

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.


12 Responses to “Bizarre Drama Surrounds Teenage ‘Modern Family’ Starlet Ariel Winter”

  1. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    November 11th, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

    But for her being on a successful television show, this sort of sordid sad drama happens way too often in America.

  2. Bob Belvedere
    November 11th, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

    Is there a father anywhere?

  3. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    November 11th, 2012 @ 11:03 pm

    Usually not

  4. robertstacymccain
    November 11th, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

    Another “Modern Family,” don’t ya know.

  5. Bob Belvedere
    November 12th, 2012 @ 12:05 am

    Look at that picture above. Maybe I’m an old fogey, but she looks like a tart.

  6. Adjoran
    November 12th, 2012 @ 2:21 am

    Yes, the scenario has been played out time and time again, especially with young girls who become celebrities. The girls who played Buffy on “Family Affair” from the ’60s and Cindy on “The Brady Bunch” in the ’70s both ended up dead from drugs and hard living.

    Even Drew Barrymore had her problems after “E.T.” but seems to have gotten her life together. But so many never manage to do so.

    Unfortunately – but hardly unpredictably – the common denominator is usually a weak or absent father.

  7. jwallin
    November 12th, 2012 @ 3:03 am

    Why is four years difference of so much concern? If she was 18 and he’s then 22 no one would say boo.

    Females mature much faster than males. Their actually about the same maturity level. This hold over from the dark ages is ridiculous. He’s an Adult? I very much doubt it.

    In many places he can’t buy a beer. the presumed age for making adult decisions and considered responsible should be raised to the age when males actually become responsible and capable of those decisions which is about 25.

    Tell me at fourteen in hollywood in entertainment and she is some doe eyed innocent who has to be protected?

    It would be another thing is this was maybe her producer or director or some other dude 30 or older.

    These are two teenagers.

    I think mom was exerting control over her little money maker. And Mom’s abused the kid more than the boy has so what about that in the equation?

    I like that they dance around what they were doing. My guess is oral. She’s probably smart enough (and maybe mom won’t let her go on the pill (it’s a little young to do that)) to want to avoid a pregnancy.

    Meanwhile who knows what the truth really is.

    Always remember when dealing with Hollywood; No publicity is bad publicity. (well unless you’re a conservative)

  8. jwallin
    November 12th, 2012 @ 3:05 am

    Professional make up does that. The trend is what I call the raccoon eyes. Makes them look older. Whereas light makeup to hide imperfections looks more natural but she’d look like 12 then.

  9. K-Bob
    November 12th, 2012 @ 5:37 am

    Four years difference is nothing, when you are thirty.

    When you are sixteen, a person four years older is in another generation, entirely.

  10. K-Bob
    November 12th, 2012 @ 5:40 am

    Or she’ll be getting her paychecks from San Fernando Valley “film” makers. Man, they destroy themselves for fame out there.

    I’d rather be rich and unknown than be famous in any way.

  11. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    November 12th, 2012 @ 11:37 am

    Bob…”maybe?” If you use a qualifier question like that to make a comment, you know the answer already.

  12. jwallin
    November 12th, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

    Not these days.