Modern Family’s Ariel Winter, 14, removed from home after abuse allegations

Yesterday, Radar had an interesting story that came from their sister publication, The Enquirer. You can read the story here – basically, sources claimed that the actors, writers and producers of Modern Family had banded together to take care of 14-year-old Ariel Winter (who plays Alex Dunphy on the show) because Ariel was seeking legal emancipation from her parents. The reason given was that Ariel has an older boyfriend (he’s 17!) and her parents didn’t like that. The story definitely raised a red flag for me – child stardom, hit TV show, an older boyfriend, etc – but I didn’t expect the story to take such a horrible turn within just a few hours. TMZ reported yesterday that Ariel has “been removed” from her home after “serious allegations of physical and emotional abuse by her mother.” YIKES.

Ariel Winter, the 14-year-old actress who plays Alex Dunphy on “Modern Family,” has been removed from her home by a judge in the wake of serious allegations of physical and emotional abuse by her mother … court sources tell TMZ.

There’s a report Ariel is seeking legal emancipation from her mom so she can be with her boyfriend, but that report is false.

Court sources tell us … on October 3rd, after a guardianship hearing, a judge determined the allegations that Ariel was being physically and emotionally abused by her mother Crystal Workman were serious enough that the judge placed Ariel in a temporary guardianship with her older sister Shanelle Workman. Our sources tell us … mama Crystal was ordered to stay 100 yards away from Ariel.

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 Crystal’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.

According to court records, the judge has set another hearing for November 20.

[From TMZ]

This is so sad. It plays into the stereotypes I have of child actors and how dysfunctional their home lives are, but this story kind of goes beyond the Lohan, you know? This poor girl. I hope Ariel’s sister is a better guardian for her, and hey… maybe Ariel will end up legally emancipated from her (abusive) parent.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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63 Responses to “Modern Family’s Ariel Winter, 14, removed from home after abuse allegations”

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  1. PrettyTarheel says:

    That poor child…At least her sister understands what she is going through, and can hopefully provide some stability and guidance.

  2. Eleonor says:

    This is so sad; I’m glad she has someone who can take care of her.
    The only underage (at the time) celebrity who obtained the emancipation from a parent is Frances Bean Cobain, and we know what a mess of mother does she have.
    I hope everything for this girl will turn fine.

  3. Riana says:

    If it was only because of he boyfriend I’d say it’s unwarranted however it does sound like there’s legitimate abuse going on. I hope she can become emancipated and that she’s in a healthy enough frame of mind to care for herself and not end up a Lohan.

    For child stars, I think the idea of the dynsfunctional home is a bit of a cliche. Look at any school and in spite of how happy or seemingly well-adjusted any kid looks there tend to be numerous examples of abuse at home – be it mental or physical. Now those kids will all grow up and take their baggage with them in a number of fields, but it only really stands out when it’s an actor/actress. Compare the amount of child stars that have ended up well adjusted and successful with no screw ups to the ones who havent and it’s a mountain compared to a mole hill.

    • marie says:

      I don’t know if it’s true but I heard the mom leaked the boyfriend story for damamge control. How sad is that?!?

      I hope this poor girl is granted emancipation and recieves the love and support she deserves.

      And I agree with you on the child stars, their baggage is just more visable.

    • L says:

      Yea, I’m willing to bet the house that mom leaked stuff about the boyfriend as damage control. The sister filed the petition back in October and there’s some doozies in there. To much a coincidence for me that stuff about the boyfriend comes out the day after the hearing.

      Apparently mom also has access to make withdrawals Ariel’s coogan account so I’m sure that’s a big part of it for her to.

      “Per her guardianship petition, Ariel’s sister, Shanelle Gray, alleges that Workman has slapped, hit and pushed Ariel, as well as abused her in the form of “vile name calling, personal insults about [her and her weight], attempts to ‘sexualize’ minor, deprivation of food, etc. for an extended period of time.”

      • Katija says:

        About her weight?!

        What a monster. This girl is a normal weight for a fourteen-year-old, which in fourteen-year-old brain sometimes translates to “I’m so fat.” I’m sure it doesn’t help having to be on set with the skinny little Mila Kunis doppelganger who plays her sister. And on top of that, mom is insulting her weight? My God. What a lousy effing parent.

      • OlyBinewski says:

        Ugh, what a horrible situation. It sounds like the mom has ongoing issues and hopefully Ariel will find herself in a safer place.

        @Katija – Also, remember that Sarah Hyland, the other daughter in the cast, recently had a kidney transplant. Presumably she followed/follows a very restrictive, doctor prescribed diet for her kidney problems. Everyone I know who is serious about keeping their dysfunctional kidneys going as long as they can is extremely thin if they do follow their doctor’s orders. I’m sure Ariel is smart enough to realize her castmate’s weight is due more to ill health than good health.

    • Marie Antoinette Jr. says:

      I agree with you Riana. As a jr. high/ high school student I was pretty much forced to work as my parents were stingy and refused to buy us school clothes, shoes, personal products, etc. We also had to pay our own transportation costs as soon as we turned 16. We lived out in the middle of no where so that was a big expense.

      Long story short, I wasted my youth waitressing after school almost 40 hours a week while my mom sat on the couch smoking and drinking whiskey 7s. Maybe if she would have least been a stage mom I could have made some decent money.

  4. betta bee says:

    sad to hear these kinds of stories. but i can’t think of her as a child when looking at the pictures. she is 14, for crying out loud!! is that how girls that age dress now?

    • kibbles says:

      She has always dressed like a grown woman on the red carpet. I think it mirrors her real life relationships with a 17 year old and living with an abusive parent. I doubt she had anyone to set reasonable rules and allowed her to just be a kid. I like the way she looks on Modern Family much more than she does in real life. She is growing up too quickly for all the wrong reasons.

    • Riana says:

      Granted I can’t see the bottom of the blue/green dress but it doesn’t seem that adult to me.

      It appears…ugh…that she’s a bit well developed in the chest area and that can (speaking from personal experience) make most dresses appear a little more risque when they’re not. I don’t consider a strapless dress to be unacceptable for a younger person.

    • L says:

      Other than her midriff showing in the Jasmine costume (which also has long sleeves, pants, and fabric draping to partially cover her stomach), I think she looks age appropriate esp for a actress on a huge tv show like modern family. The evening dress looks fantastic to my eye, not to grown up at all.

      Compared to the majority of teenagers I see walking around these days, she’s pretty conservatively dressed. Heck compared to alot of teenage stars in hollywood she’s really conservatively dressed.

    • LadyJane says:

      That was my thought. She dresses far too old for her age. She is ONLY 14!! That is still a baby in my opinion. But I am sure that is the least of her worries.

    • emmie_a says:

      She also wears *adult* makeup. I know kids need a certain amount of makeup on camera or on the red carpet but she wears waay too much for a 14 year old – it makes her look 10 – 15 years older.

    • Adrien says:

      If she didn’t have an adult cleavage, we won’t have a problem with her outfits. Her clothes are fine for her age.

  5. Bluedog says:

    I think it’s appalling that this story is being discussed in the media. This poor kid is underage and shouldn’t be subject to the same hideous invasion of privacy as an adult. I volunteer for an organization where kids go immediately after they’re removed from their homes and confidentiality is extremely important. There are laws forbidding us from discussing the children and their business.

    Kids that are taken from their homes, even bad homes, are traumatized and scared. Adding reading about themselves online is too much!

    This girl deserves her privacy.

  6. lucy2 says:

    This is a sad story, and I feel very badly for her that it’s all gone public. I hope she has a good support system from her sister, friends, and her coworkers. Good luck to her.

    I think some child stars used to get emancipated to be legally able to work longer hours, but I don’t know if that happens anymore, and I thought they were usually 16+.

  7. Erinn says:

    Now I’ve heard he’s actually 18… what business does an 18 year old have dating a little girl?

    It definitely does not warrant any form of abuse, but someone should be looking into this relationship.

    Actually… his birthday is in february so he is going to be NINETEEN.

    • Scarlet Vixen says:

      I don’t know if we can consider a 14yr old a ‘little girl,’ especially one with her difficult home life and a career. When I was a 14yr old freshman in HS I dated an 18yr old senior. It was with my parents’ permission, and was admittedly very innocent and appropriate (no sex of any kind–quite chaste, actually). I was, and have always been, pretty mature for my age so I simply had more in common with him than I had with 14yr old boys. Not every 14yr old girl is a ‘little girl’ and not every 18yr old boy is a horndog.

      • Erinn says:

        No, I get that. She’s not a ‘little girl’, I suppose that it was a bad choice. But she is still legally a child.

        And there tends to be a difference when the kids aren’t in a normal, school environment. Both of them are actors, and make more money than a normal person their age. I think there’s a certain feeling with making a salary like that at a very young age that you’re more grown up than you are.

        It just seems weird, in a lot of cases, when there’s a four year age gap between those involved. It’s not always an issue, and by no means did I say the guy was a horndog.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        When I was 14 I dated a 19 year old and it basically tore my family apart.
        He was a sweet guy but very very troubled and my parents and brother were familiar with his past so they were pretty bullsh-t.

        I credit having a very close relationship with my family for getting out of that one relatively unscathed.
        I guess I agree with both of you-I think in general it’s wrong but I also think it depends on the two people involved-maturity level, family situation etc etc.

        Regardless of who she is/isn’t dating, this is an awful story and the mother sounds like a monster.

      • Weee says:

        Not a little girls? most 14 year olders are in 8th GRADE, a guy that is gonna be 19 in 3 months is dating a 8th grader. This needs to be looked into.

      • Laura says:

        Weee-14? 8th grade? Really? I was homeschooled most of my life and finished my high school curriculum at 15, so I’m a little out of the loop, but that seems really old to be in 8th grade… (and I’m not trying to snark either, I’m honestly shocked).

    • Bodhi says:

      Whos to say its even true? The mom leaked it as damage control. The original piece says that it is false

    • Noel says:

      I do not think age is a big deal. To me having things in common is more important. My parents got together when my mom was barely 18 and my dad was 30. They both grew up in dysfunctional homes where they were physically and emotionally abused. Together they were able to help each other heal and be great parents to me. I know a lot of people were concerned about the age difference, but sometimes other things are more important.

      • Lizi says:

        I agree with you. Age is not that important sometimes. Hell,I’ve dated 2 older guys (4,5 years older) who were way less mature than me! It really depends on a person’s personality. I’ve also dated 2 younger guys (2 years younger) who were more mature than the older ones so…
        Glad your parents found each other!

  8. NerdMomma says:

    Whoever wrote that TMZ article has no understanding of the meaning of the word “ironically.”

  9. T.C. says:

    Sounds like the Mom leaked the 17 year old boyfriend story as character assacination. If the older daughter was also abused and moved out of the home, that is a pattern of abuse from this mother. Social welfare should have kept an eye on this family when they took away the older sister. Too bad there aren’t grandparents in the picture to help out.

  10. Anna says:

    I bet when modern family ends she’ll disappear for a year, get a nose job and come back as this upandcoming actress.

  11. fabgrrl says:

    Lovely girl. Sad situation. Does she need to actually be emancipated, or can someone else be her guardian? Her older sister must in her 20s. Yes, that is a LOT to ask of a sibling, who has her own life to live. But it seems like that would be easier than emancipating someone under 16.

    • Justyna says:

      Her older sister is 34 and has her own family and they also have an older brother, who was once known as Pugsley from Addams Family. I hope they will take care good care of her and won’t let her come back home. Compared to their mother, even the Addams’ seem like a pretty functional family.

  12. MsGoblin says:

    Former actor here. I remember working with children who had stage parents whose sole household income came from the kids. They had a slew of them and the parents’ job was to take them from audition to shoot to “go see” all day long.

    Underage professionals need special care and handling. They are stradling two worlds and I’m sure the angst of being an early-teenager is just compounded by the profession – especially if they are being (ab)used by a parent.

    I’m glad to hear she’s with her adult sister, but 14 is way too young to be emancipated.

  13. RN says:

    It saddened me that people were so quick to judge and actually believe the boyfriend story. It displayed a high level of ignorance. Do you know how hard it is to get a child removed from his/her mother, even temporarily? The court must be presented with overwhelmingly strong evidence of abuse. Clearly this child has suffered at the hands of the one person who should love her the most.

    • Kim says:

      That’s what I thought I reported a neighbor for neglecting her kids.Basically nothing was done .Some half assed investigation it’s very difficult to get kids removed from a home.

    • jani says:

      Having worked with a number of former CFS social workers, including some who had done emergency foster care placement, and having had a close friend who was an attorney handling termination of parental rights, I know that the legal requirements to a remove a minor from a parent, for any length of time, are very, very strict. It is not just a matter of one complaint or often even several thorough investigations. It is never just based upon a parent/child conflict over dating. A lot of substantial proof and actual family court proceedings are needed. Parents are always given the benefit of the doubt because nobody wants to potentially further traumatize a child by removing him/her from the family home. IMO many kids should be removed sooner than they are. If this girl has been placed with an older sibling, there is lot more going on that is, rightfully, not public knowledge.

    • wilkie.collins says:

      I know, hello think of Octomom and her brood. It is difficult

  14. Esmom says:

    So sad and sickening. It’s nice to hear her co-workers are willing to step up on her behalf. Crazy that they seem to have her best interests at heart while her mom does not.

    As the mom of a 13 year old, I agree with those who say 14 is too young for emancipation. I hope she finds a stable situation with a loving, reliable adult so she can regroup and move on, poor thing.

  15. aims says:

    When I first heard of this I thought, she spoiled and she wants to be with her boyfriend. Then I read the article last night, and it seems for real. The mother seems like a real nutcase. I’m glad for her that people paid attention, and became involved. The state won’t remove a girl if she’s having an epic meltdown, because she can’t see her boyfriend. There has to be something valid to the abuse claims. I’m glad she has a safe place to go to.

  16. Layale says:

    My question is: if the sister suffered the same abuse before, why was nothing done to help Ariel sooner?

    • RN says:

      Tbere’s a 20 year age gap between Ariel and her older sister. The courts are not going to preemptively take away the child from the mother based on something that happened two decades prior.

      • Bellachai says:

        I was removed from my home at 17 by CPS which made junior year of high school very difficult. Abuse allegations and their investigation started when my older sister (by four years) was in school. It takes a lot of evidence to actually remove ant child especially when they appear well adjusted. I was in all the advanced AP courses, did sports, played an instrument and clubs galore. After one incident and many teachers reporting my sister and I over the years, then CPS could remove me. It was really a nightmare.

        Things are better for me now. Needless to say once I left home for college, I never went back. :-) By the way, I had bigger breasts than her at that age. Every girl develops differently.

  17. Brookie says:

    The fact that the older sister says the sane thing leads me to believe this is all true. The mom seems like every other piece-of-work stage mom out there, and just because the older brother doesn’t corroborate the girls story doesn’t mean it’s not true. He’s probably her little boy that can do no wrong, and that mom is probably jealous/envious that the girls made it in a way that she obviously couldn’t, and takes her rage out on them.

    And Ariel might have an older boyfriend that she does want to spend her time with. It’s probably an escape for that poor girl, and the guy thinks he’s being her saviour, and is just patiently waiting for his “reward”…

    Let’s just hope the older sister has her life on track, because even if she has all the best intentions in the world, if she’s still a mess from what she went through, it’s no better of an environment than if she were to stay with her mother.

    I was in the same situation, except I wasn’t in Hollywood.

    • jwoolman says:

      In my early 20s, I personally knew at least 4 women who had married to get away from abusive parents (fathers in 3 cases, crazy mother in the 4th case). Two married as college freshmen. Another married when she was 12. Her husband was 19. She said she didn’t even realize sex was supposed to be fun for her until she was 15… :) The husband of the 4th one (he was my friend) told me about how physically and emotionally abusive her mother was and how her father dealt with it by just staying away as much as possible. He said he had to get her away from the situation (they were both college age, but she had dropped out and was back with crazy mom) and he figured his only two options were to marry her or adopt her… Since I don’t know all that many people, this might mean the problem is scarily common.

  18. Dani says:

    I honestly don’t think 17 is too old for a 14 year old. Maybe because I’m 22, but I met my husband at 16 and he was 21 going on 22, and we were on the same page. These days, 14 year old boys are exactly that, BOYS. Most girls grow up rather quickly, and by 14/15/16 they want a sense of freedom, someone they can actually have common ground with. I’m assuming that’s the situation with Ariel and her boyfriend. Her mom probably threw it in as damage control so she’d look like a good mother trying to ‘protect’ her daughter. But since the sister had similar issues, history repeats itself.

  19. Nina W says:

    This poor girl has my sympathy, what a horrible ordeal she must be going through right now. I personally don’t believe teens should date until age 16 but that reflects my personal background and up bringing not a judgement of others. I sincerely believe that a jacked up home life will drive teens into serious relationships too quickly. It happened to me, and because I was so young I really wasn’t ready for such a serious commitment. I hope this lovely young woman is able to keep things in perspective and that her boyfriend is a nice guy who understands her situation.

  20. apsutter says:

    What?! Oh no!!! This makes me so incredibly sad and worried about her. I’m a big adovocate for other women especially those who have been abused or a tough go in life. Hopefully, since she’s young she can bounce back and I’m really glad that the cast of MF is banding together to support her. It will be incredibly important that she has a good support system to help her deal with this.

  21. Sweet Dee says:

    I knew the boyfriend story was fishy. This is so sad. I love her and that show, she’s so good on it. I hope her sister gets guardianship permanently. Poor Ariel!

  22. wild flower says:

    Nice to know the Modern Family people are looking out for her. Yet another reason for me to love that show.

  23. LeeLoo says:

    I love the mom’s statement about having a Dr’s note saying she never abused her daughter. Oh yeah, a Dr’s note will totally prove you never abused your daughter…NOT. They would not have gone as far as to remove Ariel from her home unless there was a legit reason, which makes me think these allegations are true. This “mother” sounds like another lazy woman who wants to exploit her own children for financial gain instead of getting a real job like the rest of us.

    The desire for Ariel to date the older boy probably stems from the discord at home. Many times when these young girls go for these older boys it’s due to a need to escape their dysfunctional household. I definitely believe she is more abusive to her daughters than her son. Girls are 5x more likely than boys to be abused by their parents and the fact that Ariel and Shanelle both claim they were abused makes me believe this story is true.

    Fun fact that may have already been covered: Jimmy Workman, Ariel’s brother, was Pugsley Addams in the Addams family movies back in the 90s.

  24. Susi says:

    Poor girl. I feel like bad parenting seems to be a common thread with many child actors/stars. Not all, but a lot of them!

    Now this is just a massive nitpick, and is about the quoted story from TMZ, but why is it ironic that her sister was also removed? How is that in any way ironic? I do not think the writer understands the meaning of irony.

  25. A says:

    Oye. Apparently the Joan Crawford of stage moms leaked the bf story (fake) to try and take the heat off the fact that she’s an abuser. Poor Ariel.

  26. Dree says:

    Poor Ariel. That is such a sad situation, but it’s definitely a silver lining that she has her sister there for her. Few places actually reported that her sister went through the same abuse, so it was interesting to read that here. Bless her.