Turpins face life in prison

Some of you may remember my post from last year about David and Louise Turpin, the parents of 13 children who were found to be malnourished and shackled and beaten inside the home in which the parents ‘home-schooled’ their children. The children were so malnourished that they seemed much younger than their years and their knowledge of the world was highly deficient. It was all part of their ‘Christian upbringing’ because the Turpins were considered a ‘good Christian family’. It is a horrifying and tragic story of the absurd levels of discretion given to parents of children in the US under the umbrella of religious freedom, to determine how their children are brought up. This article describes the laws that enable this kind of abuse to exist.

An earlier report recounted the way they tortured the children.

The California couple facing abuse and torture charges for shackling some of their 13 children to beds also beat, strangled and starved them in acts of “human depravity”, authorities said on Thursday.

David Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise Turpin, 49, allegedly ate apple and pumpkin pie and other food in front of the children but denied them proper nutrition and medical care, stunting their growth and cognitive development in one of the US’s most shocking cases of child abuse.

The children were allowed to shower just once per year and punished “for playing with water” if they washed their hands above the wrist, he said. They were up at night and slept during the day. They had not seen a doctor in four years and never saw a dentist.

The abuse started while the family lived in Texas and intensified after it moved to California in 2010, said Hestrin.

Initially the parents punished infractions by tying the children with rope, then used chains and padlocks, sometimes leaving the children to urinate in their beds. There were new toys in the house but they were unopened.

The picture of parents eating well in front of their starving children is the cruelest image that sticks in my mind. I simply cannot imagine any parent doing such a thing. A parent will usually go hungry to let their children eat.

After a trial, the parents have just been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

Their parents watched in tears, as their children related the nightmares about being chained and beaten.

The sentencing came just over a year after the Turpins’ 17-year-old daughter jumped out of a window of the family’s squalid home and called 911. She reported that some of her siblings were chained to their beds and that she hadn’t bathed in months.

The 17-year-old girl had lived such an isolated life that she didn’t know her address and didn’t know what medication meant. Most of the children ranging in age from two to 29 were severely underweight.

Their children read statements at the sentencing hearing. Here are two.

I think these children are going to be studied for years to come to see if they can overcome the effects of this long-term torture. One can only hope that they do.

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