By LYDIA WARREN
A music theater student has won a stalking order against her parents who admitted they installed monitoring software on her computer and phone to ensure that she succeeded. David and Julie Ireland have been ordered to have no contact with their 21-year-old daughter - their only child - before September 23, 2013 and must keep 500 feet away from her at all times.
The unusual case concerns Aubrey Ireland, a musical theater major who regularly fills lead roles at Cincinnati's prestigious College-Conservatory of Music and has made the Dean's List every quarter. Despite this success, her parents often drove 600 miles from their home in Leawood, Kansas, to visit her unannounced and to accuse her of promiscuity, of using drugs and of having mental issues.
They even informed her head of department that she had mental problems and that they were considering going to court to force her to get treatment, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. They admitted they had installed monitoring software on her laptop and cellphone, making their daughter feel 'like I was a dog with a collar on', Ms Ireland said.
As the situation escalated last year, she even called police to her apartment, claiming she had been assaulted by her mother, who in turn said Ms Ireland had assaulted her. The school even hired security guards to keep them out of her shows, the Enquirer reported. When she cut off all contact, they stopped paying her tuition and demanded she return the $66,000 they had spent. The judge refused and the college gave her a full scholarship for her final year.
'It's just been really embarrassing and upsetting to have my parents come to my university when I’m a grown adult and just basically slander my name and follow me around,' she said in a court hearing. Kenyatta Mickles, a professor of clinical law at the University of Cincinnati, said the parents were obsessed with controlling their daughter, and one way to do that was to control her internet use.
But the Irelands said they were simply looking out for the best interests of their only daughter to ensure she did not ruin her chances at success. 'She's an only child who was catered to all her life by loving parents,' Julie Ireland said in court. 'We’re not bothering her. We're not a problem.'
But Ms Ireland sought a civil stalking order after her parents went to the college and told staff they would try to take her away for mental evaluations, warning it would 'attract a lot of publicity'. On September 24 she filed a stalking order against her parents and the a case was heard in October and again earlier this month.
At a court intervention between the parties, mediators told the parents that they were the issue rather than their daughter, and the parents responded that she was 'a good actor and lying'.
Yet the judge ruled that she is an adult and her parents must stay at least 500 feet away from her and cannot have any contact with her until at least September 23, 2013.