The 13 siblings who were starved, shackled, and abused while their parents, David and Louise Turpin, held them captive in their California “house of horrors” have since been “failed” by the social services system that was supposed to care for them, according to a new report commissioned by Riverside County.
The siblings were freed from captivity in 2018 after one of them escaped from the Turpin home through a window and called police. David and Louise Turpin were arrested and later pleaded guilty to torturing and abusing their children. They were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Police, prosecutors, and some of the siblings themselves over the years have publicly described the horrific conditions the children endured. The siblings, who were aged 2 to 29 when they were rescued, were often chained up for days or weeks at a time, fed just one meal a day, not permitted to bathe for months on end, isolated from the outside world, and forced to keep a nocturnal schedule where they slept during the day and awoke at night.
But the county officials tasked with caring for the siblings after their 2018 rescue often subjected them to other types of neglect, according to the report.
Last year, ABC News published an investigation alleging the children struggled to access the services they needed, as well as the roughly $600,000 in donations that poured in from strangers from around the world. ABC News reported the adult Turpin children had often been unable to access basic services like healthcare, transportation, and even food.
“With respect to the Turpin siblings, we conclude there were many times over the last four years that they received the care they needed from the County,” the report said. “This was not always the case, however, and all too often the social services system failed them.”
The county, spurred by the ABC News investigation, commissioned the law firm Larson LLP to investigate the siblings’ hardships. Larson LLP’s report, published Friday with significant redactions, totaled 634 pages and will be presented to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors on July 12.
The report said some of the younger children were “placed with caregivers who were later charged with child abuse.” The older siblings, who required extensive assistance from the county as they transitioned into living as independent adults, experienced unstable housing and food insecurity, the report said.
“When they complained about their circumstances, they often felt frustrated, unheard, and stifled by the system,” the report said.
The report also found the social services system in Riverside County was seriously lacking in terms of staffing, placements for children, and services like mental health treatment, transportation, and teaching teenagers and young adults important life skills such as “managing money” and “forming healthy relationships.”
The report recommended a slew of improvements to Riverside County’s social services system, including increasing compensation and reducing workloads for social workers and supervisors, increasing funding for new placements for children, and launching a county-wide effort to increase foster homes available.
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