We read a great deal about college students who are overly dependent on their parents, but 21-year-old Aubrey Ireland contended that she faced the opposite problem – obsessive parents who secretly monitored her emails and calls, watched her sleep at night via Skype and showed up at her college uninvited to check up on her and speak to her department head.
A court sided with Ireland, ruling that her parents’ behaviors amounted to stalking and ordering them to stay clear of their only child while she was finishing school. Among the parents’ transgressions: Installing monitoring software on her computer and her phone.
A dean’s list music theater major from Kansas, Ireland said she had no choice but to take her parents to court. Outraged, her parents are now attempting to recoup the $66,000 in tuition they paid the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. (The school gave Ireland a scholarship to complete her final year.)
Ireland told “Good Morning America:” “They basically thought that they were paying for my college tuition and living expenses that they could tell me what to do, who to hang out with … basically control all of my daily life.”
At the court hearing, Ireland’s mother described her daughter as “an only child who was catered to all her life by loving parents. We’re not bothering her. We’re not a problem,” according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
That’s not what Aubrey Ireland told police last year when they were called to her apartment. The daughter said she was assaulted by her mom who in turn said the daughter assaulted her. The parents became such an issue that the school hired security guards to keep them out of their daughter’s performances. When the parents stopped paying her tuition because she’d cut off all contact with them, the school gave her a full scholarship for her final year.
The college senior decided to seek a civil stalking order to keep her parents away from her after they went to UC and told her college administrators they could seek to have her taken in for mental evaluations. That, the parents noted, ”will attract a lot of publicity,” according to court documents.
She filed a Sept. 24 stalking order against her parents, a case that was heard Oct. 9 and again Dec. 10.
After Common Pleas Court Judge Jody Luebbers asked the sides to work out a settlement moments before the Dec. 10 court hearing started, Julie Ireland told her daughter’s attorney they wanted her to return to them the $66,000 they’d spent on her three years of college tuition.
After an intervention failed when the mediators told the parents they, not their daughter, were the issue, the Irelands said their daughter was ”a good actor and lying.” David Ireland is particularly worried for his daughter ”because of my family history of mental health,” noting he had three first cousins who committed suicide, according to court documents.
Because Aubrey Ireland, who is scheduled to graduate in the spring, is an adult, she is allowed to live her life as she chooses, a judge ruled.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog