The couple who allegedly kept their malnourished children captive in their Perris home pleaded not guilty on all counts after being charged with torture, abuse and false imprisonment on Thursday.
In a news conference on Thursday, authorities announced the charges filed against David Turpin, 56, and his wife, Louise, 49: 12 counts of torture,12 counts of false imprisonment, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult and six counts of child abuse .
The father was charged with one count of lewd act on a child by force or fear or duress. District Attorney Mike Hestrin said he touched one of his daughters under the age of 14 “in a lewd way.”
The couple faces 94 years to life in prison if convicted.
The Turpins were arrested after their 17-year-old daughter escaped and called 911 early Sunday morning. Officers dispatched to the home in the 100 block of Muir Woods Road discovered 12 of the girl’s siblings — ages 2 to 29, some of them shackled to beds with chains and padlocks — in “dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” according to a statement from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
A judge set bail at $12 million each for the Turpins, who were scheduled to return to court on Feb. 23. A public defender will represent David Turpin, and, due to a conflict of interest for the public defender’s office, another lawyer has been appointed to represent Louise Turpin.
The couple home-schooled their children, and deputies and social services said they had never been called to the residence.
In Thursday’s news conference, officials said the abuse started while the family lived in Texas and continued after they moved to Murrieta in 2010 and Perris in 2014.
The siblings said they were tied up with ropes “as a punishment,” Hestrin said. When one of the victims tried to flee while hog-tied, the parents allegedly started chaining them to their beds.
The Turpins only allowed their children to shower once per year and denied them food, Hestrin said. Their 29-year-old daughter weighed 82 pounds, according to the district attorney.
The daughter who alerted police on Sunday had been planning to escape for more than two years, Hestrin said. One of the teenager’s siblings fled with her but turned back in fear.
Investigators have started looking through the journals the children were permitted to keep.
“This is severe physical, emotional abuse,” Hestrin said.
The Riverside University Health System Foundation, a Moreno Valley-based nonprofit, said it has established a fund for the siblings’ long-term needs.
“We recognize financial gifts will not eliminate their trauma, but additional resources will be extremely important in helping these victims adjust over time,” Erin Phillips, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement.