Los Angeles Times
Turpin siblings file lawsuits over new abuse claims
Attorneys sue after firm finds serious flaws in Riverside County’s social services system.
Torture and abuse followed the Turpin siblings into the Riverside County foster care system after they were rescued from their parents’ “house of horrors” in 2018, according to two lawsuits filed this week.
While in foster care, the 13 siblings were sexually abused for three years, forced to gorge on food and eat their own vomit, court records show. Their foster parents suggested how the children could kill themselves and said no one would love them, according to complaints filed Tuesday in Riverside County Superior Court.
The siblings were discovered living captive in a Perris tract home four years ago after one of the girls escaped and asked a neighbor to call 911. They were removed from the care of their parents — David and Louise Turpin, who were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison after being convicted of torturing and imprisoning their offspring — and six of the children were placed in foster care.
One of the lawsuits — which detail the children’s treatment by Mr. and Mrs. O, a couple who lived with their adult daughter — was filed by two adult Turpin siblings who aged out of the foster care system. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department identified the foster parents as Marcelino and Rosa Olguin.
The other lawsuit was filed by four of the younger siblings, three of whom are minors. The legal accusations arrive less than a month after a third-party firm found serious flaws in Riverside County’s social services system that “failed” the Turpin siblings.
Court records show the Turpins’ foster family was certified by ChildNet Youth and Family Services, which is licensed with the state of California and trains parents to oversee children in
Riverside County’s foster homes. Although the county knew the Turpin children were in an “extremely fragile state,” they were placed in the care of the Olguins, who had a history of physically and emotionally abusing children, the lawsuits claim.
The children were hit in the face with sandals, had their hair pulled and were struck with belts, court documents show. The foster parents also threatened to put the children’s hands into electrical sockets.
“Mr. O. sexually abused Jane Doe 5 and her siblings by, among other things, grabbing and fondling their buttocks, legs and breasts, kissing them on their mouths and making sexually suggestive comments,” according to one of the complaints.
One Turpin daughter told a social worker about the abuse, the suit says, but the children remained in the home, and the social services department did not conduct follow-up interviews, according to the complaint.
One child was forced to sit outside for hours at a time by herself as punishment. The Olguins also made the children sit in a circle and “recount in detail the horrors that they had experienced while living with their biological parents,” the lawsuit states.
In March 2021, the Olguins — along with their adult daughter — were arrested and charged with lewd acts with a child, inf licting injury on a child, willful child cruelty and false imprisonment. They have pleaded not guilty.
The Turpin children were removed from the home, according to the lawsuits, but not before they suffered “physical and psychological injuries and severe emotional distress as a result of three years of abuse and neglect.” The children say in the complaints that, just as their biological parents did, their foster parents neglected and abused them while not giving them enough food.
“The foster family that has been charged with horrific criminal crimes is only the tip of this iceberg,” attorney Elan Zektser, who represents the two adult siblings, said in a statement.
He said Riverside County and the foster care agency “turned their heads and closed their eyes as some of Riverside’s most vulnerable children were being horrifically abused for a second time.”
The four other siblings who filed a separate lawsuit are represented by attorney Roger Booth.
Earlier this month, a report from a third-party law firm detailed failures in the county’s social services system. The report acknowledged that “with respect to the Turpin siblings ... there were many times over the last four years that they received the care they needed from the county,” but “this was not always the case, however, and all too often the social services system failed them.”
Riverside County officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the allegations made in the complaints.
Jordan and Jennifer Turpin, two of the 13 siblings, described to Diane Sawyer on ABC’s “20/20” the horrors they experienced with their biological parents and the night Jordan escaped to call for help.
“I just ran away from home because I live in a family of 15, and we have abusing parents,” the young woman, then 17, said in the recorded 911 phone call.