The children at the center of the Perris torture case who endured years of abuse and were found severely malnourished, some of them chained to beds, are currently being seen by specialists within the Riverside County District Attorney's Office victim services division, but their future remains unknown, officials said Thursday.
The victims, who range between the ages of 2 and 29, remained hospitalized Thursday after one of the children, a 17-year-old girl, led authorities to the horrific conditions in her home Sunday.
Their parents, David and Louise Turpin, have been charged with 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse, and 12 counts false imprisonment. David Turpin faces an additional count of lewd act on a child under 14, officials announced at a news conference Thursday.
The youngest child, a 2-year-old girl, did not appear to have endured the same torture as her older children, and her parents do not face any charges specific to her, officials explained.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin said his agency will work this case delicately, but throughly.
"We are fully prepared to see justice in this case and do so in a way that keeps these victims from further harm," Hestrin said during the news conference.
He added that his office intends to protect the children from further exploitation and trauma.
Melissa Donaldson, director of the DA's victim services division, said three advocates will be assisting and providing services to the children and adults. She explained that the victims have "multiple issues" and they will need long-term help. The advocates will make sure the children are not "re-victimized," will be present during court proceedings and will work with the county Department of Child Protective Services moving forward.
Mass casualty crisis response experts are also working with the victims, Donaldson said.
Hestrin said the children are "in good hands," and are being cared for, but he admitted he did not know where the children may end up.
“They lack a basic knowledge of life," Hestrin said.
The DA gave a "snapshot" of the continued abuse that may have began before the family moved to Riverside County in 2010 from Texas. They lived in Murrieta for several years, moving into the Perris house in 2014.
Hestrin said the children were tied up with ropes and chains for weeks, sometimes months, were denied food and were only allowed to shower once a year.
The dozen oldest children were so severely malnourished they faced muscle-wasting, have suffered cognitive impairment and nerve damage as a result of “extreme and prolonged physical abuse,” Hestrin said.
A 12-year-old boy weighs that of an average 7 year old, while a 29-year-old woman weighed only 82 pounds, the DA said.
He explained that the abuse intensified over time.
"What started off as neglect became severe, pervasive, prolonged child abuse," he said.
The Turpins pleaded not guilty to all charges Thursday afternoon, officials said. Their bail was set at $12 million each and they are scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 23. The defendants could face up to 94 years to life in prison.
The Riverside University Health System Foundation, a Moreno Valley-based nonprofit, has established a fund for the siblings' long-term needs.