LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The sister of "Modern Family" actress Ariel Winter will continue serving as the temporary guardian of the teen amidst allegations of abuse by her mother, a judge ruled today.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said the 14-year-old actress should stay with Shanelle Gray pending a Dec. 12 non-jury trial on whether to make her the permanent guardian.
Gray was named temporary guardian of the actress Oct. 3. According to court documents, Winter contends she has been subjected to physical and mental abuse by her mother, Chrisoula Workman, who has vehemently denied the allegations and filed multiple declarations from family friends who claimed they had never seen any abuse.
Winter stars as brainy teen Alex Dunphy in the Emmy-winning ABC series.
Attorney David Booth, addressing the court on behalf of Ariel's father, Glenn Workman, said his client opposes the temporary guardianship and is willing to move back into the family home and live with his daughter. He said Ariel's mother would agree to leave the residence.
But Levanas said Glenn Workman's sworn declaration was confusing because in some portions he claims to support Gray's efforts, but elsewhere says he believes she is alienating Ariel from her parents.
Levanas also noted that a report from the county Department of Children and Family Services stated that if he did not establish a temporary guardianship, the agency planned to step in and do so. The agency found evidence of emotional abuse toward Winter, but not physical abuse, Levanas said.
Chrisoula Workman's attorney, Anita Gumm, told Levanas the actress is a "rebellious teenager" and also said her older sister, a mother of two children, is beset with personal concerns that make her unsuited to serve as temporary guardian to her younger sibling.
"She (Gray) has her own family to take care of," Gumm said. "Ariel's mother has sacrificed her life to make her a success."
But Gray's attorney, Michael Kretzmer, said neither parent is suited to step in and take over the role now being served by his client.
"There isn't a relationship between Ariel and her father and her mother has been controlling," he said. "This has not been for one second a picture of a rebellious teen. She's doing quite well in the custody of Ms. Gray as her temporary guardian."
But Gumm said Chrisoula Workman's role as a strict parent should not be held against her.
"A controlling mother does not mean she is unfit," she said.