David and Louise Turpin, parents of the 13 children they have been accused of beating, starving and holding captive in their home in Perris, California, have officially pleaded guilty to multiple charges. The parents, who were charged with multiple felonies, including torture, child cruelty, cruelty to an adult dependent, child endangerment and false imprisonment, pleaded guilty to 14 of the charges on Friday after coming to a plea agreement with prosecutors.
The news comes a little more than a year after one of the Turpin children escaped the home and managed to call police.
According to NBC News, the parents kept their kids shackled to their beds, gave them little food and only let them shower once a year. One of the couple's daughters also claimed she was the victim of a lewd act forced upon her by her father. At the time the parents were arrested in January 2018, prosecutors said that only their youngest child was exempt from the abuse, but the rest of their children, ranging in ages 2 to 29, were tortured.
The heartbreaking situation only first came to light when one of their daughters, who was 17 at the time, managed to escape the house and call 911. CNN reported that she had found a deactivated cellphone in the house and had been planning the brave escape for two years before she finally took her shot and fled through a window.
Emergency responders who arrived at the scene described the girl as being so emaciated that they believed she was only 10 years old. People reported that when police arrived, they found a den of squalor and abuse. Police said the children were shackled to the furniture and prosecutors said that the parents would routinely beat, strangle and starve their children in a cycle of abuse which dated back to 2010. They also reported that the children had never been to the dentist and CNN added that none of them had been to a doctor in four years.
Speaking of the condition of the kids when police found them, Captain Greg Fellows of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department told Reuters, “If you can imagine being 17 years old and appearing to be a 10-year-old, being chained to a bed, being malnourished and injuries associated with that," he described of her injuries. "I would call that torture.”
The parents were arrested on January 14, 2018, and now face 25 years to life in prison for their heinous acts.
According to the initial police report published on the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's Facebook page, David and Louise "failed to provide a logical reason why their children were restrained (to their beds) in that manner. Deputies located what they believed to be 12 children inside the house, but were shocked to discover that 7 of them were actually adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29," the report read. "The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty."
All 13 of the victims were taken to the police station and interviewed before they were taken to the hospital to be examined. Meanwhile, their parents were arrested and were initially charged with nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment, Reuters reported. Their bail was set at $9 million.
The parents finally faced the consequences of their actions on February 22, when a plea deal was made with prosecutors. In court, David and Louise Turpin finally pleaded guilty to 14 felony counts, and in exchange for their official plea, the two will not have to go to trial and their children will not have to testify in court.
At a press conference, Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin told reporters that his office was "fully prepared to seek justice in this case. This is among the worst, most aggravated child abuse cases I have ever seen," but admitted that the prosecution was eager to strike a plea deal with the couple so their children would not have to relive their abuse in a courtroom.
“We decided that the victims have endured enough torture and abuse,” he said. “I personally met with the victims and, rest assured, they all are relieved to know this case has been resolved. The defendants in this case essentially accepted the maximum punishment under current California law.”
The agreement asked that both David and Louise admit to at least one crime for each of their 12 victims — but the couple did not plead to any charges for their youngest victim.
The two face a lifetime in prison with an opportunity for parole after 25 years. They will officially be sentenced on April 19.
According to CNN, the adult victims see themselves as "survivors" of the abuse. The attorney for the adult Turpin children, Jack Osborn, told reporters, "Our clients are relieved that there will not be a trial and they are happy the district attorney was able to achieve this result."
He added that the adult children were doing "very well."
"They have been living together, getting their education and moving their lives forward. They are all extremely bright, incredibly strong and resilient. They have been supportive of each other," he said. "They view themselves as survivors."
This post was originally published on Mom.me sister site Cafe Mom.