Riverside County

Turpin Siblings File Lawsuit Against Riverside County and Foster Agency Over Abuse

"It is beyond shocking that the County and CHILDNET let these kids get horrifically abused once again," said Elan Zektser, an attorney representing two Turpin siblings

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Six of the 13 Turpin siblings filed a lawsuit against Riverside County and a private foster care agency alleging "sexual, physical, and emotional abuse" while in a foster home that they were placed in after their rescue from what authorities described as a house of horrors in 2018.

The siblings were placed in a foster home by ChildNet where the children say they were victims of severe abuse and neglect by both the foster parents and their adult daughter, according to two lawsuits filed on July 19.

The suits allege the foster agency knew the family was unfit to be foster parents because of "a prior history of abusing and neglecting children who had been placed in their care" and failed to act once they were alerted to the allegations of abuse.

The Turpins remained in the home and were targeted in relentless forms of mental and physical torment, even after one of the older Turpin children "had conversations with defendants' social workers in which she conveyed information and asked for help," the complaints allege.

According to the lawsuits, the foster parents suggested that the children commit suicide because they were "unlovable." It also accuses the family of forcing the siblings to consume a lot of food, and then making them eat their own vomit when they threw up.

“The Turpin 13 endured some of the most sickening child abuse the County of Riverside has ever seen. After these vulnerable children were freed, they were placed by the County through CHILDNET into a known abusive foster home. It is beyond shocking that the County and CHILDNET let these kids get horrifically abused once again," Elan Zektser, the attorney representing two of the oldest Turpin siblings, told NBC4 News.

"At this time, our organization is not at liberty to disclose facts or discuss the allegations made in the complaint. We look forward to providing the facts at the appropriate time in court. Our agency has been serving California’s most vulnerable, traumatized youth for over 50 years. We have a strong track record of providing excellent care and continue to demonstrate our commitment to these children," ChildNet Youth and Family Services said in a statement.

"We deeply care about the safety and wellbeing of every single child under our care. Our hearts go out to the Turpin siblings. Any instance when a child is harmed is heartbreaking. We continue to evaluate our practices with a critical eye and are committed to understanding and addressing the root cause.  This includes expanding the availability of quality and safe placements for all children in foster care. 

Once Riverside County receives a lawsuit, it is thoroughly reviewed to determine next steps. The county does not comment on pending legal matters or specific juvenile cases due to confidentiality laws," Riverside County Department of Public Social Services said in a statement to NBCLA.

The siblings were placed in a foster home after then-17-year-old Jordan Turpin escaped her home in the middle of the night and called 911 in January 2019. Jordan told a sheriff’s deputy that her sisters and brothers, who ranged in age from 2 to 29, had been starved, chained to beds and forced to live in squalor. The children slept during the day, were active a few hours at night and had minimal education. They were taken to Corona Medical Center after the rescue and were found to be severely malnourished.

Upon entering the child welfare system, the plaintiffs allege they were subjected to more abuse that continued until the spring of 2021, when three members of the Perris family fostering some of the siblings were arrested on charges of abuse.

The siblings accused their former foster father of fondling and kissing two of the sisters and physically assaulting other children, according to the suits.

All three have plead not guilty and are free on bail awaiting trial.

The six siblings have either since been emancipated or placed in alternate foster care homes, where no issues have been reported.

The Turpin siblings' biological parents, David and Louis Turpin are serving sentences of 25 years to life in state prison.

"Our communities should be appalled. We must always speak up for our children. Always," said Zektser.

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