Alleged mistreatment of Turpin siblings in county care prompts review of services, quality of care

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Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Turpin case prompts review into county services, quality of care
There are new questions about the treatment the Turpin children received while in the care of Riverside County.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Nearly three weeks after an ABC News exclusive story on the 13 Turpin siblings, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors is taking action.

Not only did the two-hour long "20/20" special document their escape from a Perris "house of horrors," but it also shed light on allegations that some of the Turpin children were since abused while under foster care in Riverside County.

"I like many of you watched the recent '20/20' special on the Turpin children," said Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chairperson Karen Spiegel. "The reaction, for most of us, was horror and disgust."

Spiegel welcomed Stephen Larson, a former district court judge, at the public meeting Tuesday to introduce him as the head of an independent investigation into what happened.

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"With respect to the Turpin siblings, our investigation is focusing on two primary areas," Larson said. "First, we are identifying and scrutinizing the services provided to the six minor Turpin children and their seven adult siblings while under the care and supervision of the county's departments and agencies. Second, we are assessing and analyzing the quality of this care by the county."

The investigation began in October, approximately two months after criminal charges were brought against three Riverside County parents for allegations of felony child abuse.

According to an arrest declaration obtained by Eyewitness News, there are nine alleged minor victims and dependent adults. Seven of them were brought under the care of the defendants in April 2018 and are believed to be several of the Turpin children.

The declaration states that the defendants "were told/knew of the egregious, life-long severe abuses the biological parents inflicted on (the victims)... the three defendants pressure questioned the siblings about their traumatic past."

Additionally, according to the criminal complaint, one of the defendants is facing several counts of sexual abuse.

"We've got to shine a light on this," said Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin during the "20/20" special. "The public deserves to know what their government did and didn't do, and how we failed these victims."

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted to create a special committee to monitor the progress of the investigation. The results of the investigation are expected to be made public by the end of March next year.