March 13th, 2014
09:31 AM ET

New Jersey Student Who Sued Parents Returns Home

A high school senior who filed suit against her mother and father for financial support and college tuition has returned to her home in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, the attorneys for her parents said Wednesday.

"Rachel Canning has returned home and reunited with her parents and siblings. Her return home is not contingent on any financial and/or other considerations," said the statement from the law firm Snyder & Sarno.

The lawsuit has not officially been dropped, but Angelo Sarno, who is representing Rachel's parents, Sean and Elizabeth, said the family conflict has been resolved.

"The bottom line is it's over," Sarno said at a news conference. "It's ancient history, it's done. They've welcomed her back into the house."

Canning, 18, 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 last week denied the teenager's request for high school tuition and current living expenses from her parents. 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 they ultimately "determined that allegation of emotional abuse was unfounded," a letter from DCPP states.

Neither Rachel nor her parents were present at Wednesday's news conference. Sarno would not comment on what brought the reconciliation or whether Rachel was still in a relationship with her boyfriend. He asked that the public respect the family's privacy.

"This is a matter that should have been brought into some counselor's office, not into a courtroom," Sarno said. "We just ask that you respect their wishes and give them some chance to resolve it."

CNN's requests for comment from Tanya Helfand, the attorney representing the younger Canning, were not returned. 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.

In court documents filed in New Jersey Superior Court Wednesday, Helfand wrote that only a few days ago, Rachel indicated that she could not go back home. But after speaking with her mother Tuesday, she decided to waive the complaint.

If Rachel wishes to dismiss the lawsuit, it should "be done of her own free will and not due to the extreme pressure of her parents and the media," Helfand wrote in court documents.

Canning's case attracted national attention, which Sarno noted would likely continue to affect Rachel. He said the family is not expected to make a public statement, despite the amicable resolution.

"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.

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  1. Rachel

    sean ohara, besides having patrol cars monitor their house.. what is your point? These are things most parents nearing retirement do. The girl is one year removed from an adult and needs to figure out her own solutions if she is not happy with her parents. How old are you?

    March 13, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  2. sean ohara

    This is a very dysfunctional family and the blame for the girl's behavior is more the father's rather than the daughter's.

    This dad had hoped his daughter would win a free ride to a college by securing a basketball scholarship. Then when he realized that her talent was not of that caliber, he told her instead of attending that private Catholic high school, she should transfer to a public high school where she would get more playing time and possibly have a better chance at winning a scholarship. She than gave up the sport. Anyone who knows anything about athletics knows that the father was dreaming if he thought that.

    Then this Dad and Mom decided to take a weeks vacation to Las Vegas last year when the daughter was still a minor at 17 and while away, the parents expected her to watch over their 2 other kids. The father, who was an ex police chief, called a current police chief in the town the Canning family live and asked for a special dispensation to have a special police watch over his family's house by having a cop car riding by that house every now and then.

    Most posters in NJ say this girl is a brat. They should know that their tax dollars are paying this Dad a tax free pension of over $8,000 per month plus free medical benefits for his family while the Dad has another NJ State job that currently pays him over $120,000 per year .

    Most who call her a brat say that she is selfless. I say the father is the selfless one. I think he is trying to save money so he can move to Florida and in the process, the taxpayers of NJ will pay for that lifestyle forever.

    March 13, 2014 at 11:33 am | Reply
    • Samantha

      @Sean OHara –

      "Most who call her a brat say that she is selfless. I say the father is the selfless one. "

      Do you even know what "selfless" means? It means being concerned with the wishes and needs of others before the needs of yourself. I don't think that ANYONE is or ever would call said father, or this entitled, piss poor example of the degradation of American youth and their insolvent sense of moral ethics – "selfless" – in any aspect of this disgusting situation.

      March 28, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Reply

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