New Jersey student drops lawsuit against parents
(CNN) — A high school senior who sued her mother and father for financial support and college tuition dropped the lawsuit Tuesday, according to a decision by a Superior Court judge in Morristown, New Jersey.
Rachel Canning, 18, who returned home and reunited with her parents in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, a week ago, appeared in court Tuesday and testified that she decided to dismiss her complaint.
Judge Peter A. Bogaard ruled that Canning’s “decision to dismiss the litigation was a knowing and voluntary decision.”
Canning’s parents, Sean and Elizabeth, were also in court Tuesday.
Canning alleged in her lawsuit that her parents forced her out of their home and that she was unable to support herself financially. The lawsuit asked that her parents pay the remaining tuition for her last semester at her private high school, pay her current living and transportation expenses, commit to paying her college tuition and reimburse her friend’s parents for legal fees.
Her parents said she left home because she didn’t want to obey their rules.
A judge denied the teenager’s request for high school tuition and current living expenses from her parents two weeks ago, and a date had been set for April on the other issues in the lawsuit.
Canning, an honor student and cheerleader at Morris Catholic High School in Denville, said in court documents that she had to leave her parents’ home because of emotional and psychological mistreatment. She alleged, among other things, that her mother called her “fat” and “porky” and that her father threatened to beat her.
Canning was suspended from school for truancy in October, according to court documents filed by her parents’ former attorney, Laurie Rush-Masuret. Her parents told the teen that she could no longer see her boyfriend, who was also suspended from school. Car and phone privileges were also taken away.
Once she learned of the punishment, Canning cut school again and then decided to run away, her father said in court documents.
After receiving allegations that Rachel was being abused, New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency interviewed the teen, her parents and her two younger sisters, but it ultimately “determined that allegation of emotional abuse was unfounded,” a letter from the agency states.
CNN’s requests for comment from Tanya Helfand, the attorney representing the younger Canning, were not returned Tuesday. A request for comment from John Inglesino, whose family had been paying Rachel’s legal fees and housing her for the past four months, also was unanswered.
Neither Rachel nor her parents were at Wednesday’s news conference to announce that she had returned home. Her parents’ attorney, Angelo Sarno, did not comment Wednesday on what brought the reconciliation or whether Rachel was still in a relationship with her boyfriend.
Canning’s case attracted national attention, which Sarno said Wednesday would probably continue to affect Rachel.
“Nothing good could have come from this case. Absolutely nothing good. This kid is going to be affected long term from the attention,” Sarno said.
CNN’s Chris Welch contributed to this report.
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