MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A bitter family battle was playing out in a New Jersey courtroom Monday, as an 18-year-old student has sued her parents claiming they kicked her out and demanded she pay for her own college education.
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, Rachel Canning’s parents could not believe it.
“We’re being sued by our child,” said Sean Canning, a former police chief in Lincoln Park, N.J. “I’m dumbfounded, so is my wife, so are my other daughters.”
Rachel Canning is a cheerleader and an honor student at Morris Catholic High School in nearby Denville.
In court papers, she alleged her parents abandoned her when she turned 18 and have now refused to pay for her to go to college – even though she has received acceptance letters from several universities.
But her father told a different story.
“I know Rachel is a) a good kid, b) an incredibly rebellious teen, and she’s getting some terrible information,” Sean Canning said.
He claimed Rachel ran away from home in November because she did not want to follow house rules.
“Living in our house there – there’s very rules,” he said. “There’s minor chores. There’s curfews – when I say curfew, it’s usually after 11 o’clock at night.”
Rachel did not want to be interviewed Monday. She is staying with the family of her best friend – which includes attorney and Morris County Freeholder John Inglesino.
Inglesino is funding the lawsuit, telling CBS 2 News it is the only way the bright and focused teen will be able to go to a college appropriate for her to become a biomedical engineer.
Rachel, who has a $20,000 scholarship, said the University of Vermont – a private college – is her first choice.
But Sean Canning said he is not refusing to pay for her college education.
“I reject the whole question on that — the whole premise,” he said. “We have a college fund that’s available to her – there’s no doubt about that. But it’s the equivalent … of going shopping at a high-end store and sending somebody the bill.”
Rachel has said she did not run away, but was given the option of dumping her boyfriend or getting out.
“Me and my wife are distraught,” Sean Canning said.
Both sides will be in court Tuesday. Rachel Canning wants the court not to emancipate her, because under the law, a parent has an obligation to support any child who cannot stand on his or her own financially.
Rachel also said every piece of financial paperwork she fills out asks her that question and shows she clearly doesn’t have the means to support herself.
Inglesino said he has spent more than $12,000 on the lawsuit because he wants Rachel to have a great future.
Sean Canning said Inglesino is just butting in where he shouldn’t and is influencing Rachel inappropriately.
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