RIVERSIDE (CBSLA/CBS News) – The parents accused of torturing and starving their 13 children – ages 2 to 29 – and keeping them in depraved conditions at a home in Perris will be in court Friday for a procedural hearing.
For the first time, lawyers representing their seven adult children are revealing how their recovery is going.
Last month, the children were rescued from a home in Perris after one of them, a 17-year-old girl, escaped and called police.
David Turpin, 57, and Louis Ann Turpin, 49, are each charged with 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent, six counts of child abuse and neglect and 12 counts of child imprisonment. David Turpin also faces one count of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14.
The charges relate to behavior going back to at least 2010 and apply to the cities of Murrieta and Perris.
Prosecutors say the children were severely malnourished and punished. When they were not chained up, they were kept in different rooms. None of the children were allowed to shower more than once a year.
“There was prolonged abuse; it did involve beatings and strangulations,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin told reporters last month.
Beginning many years ago, the children would be tied up with rope. Then the couple began using chains and padlocks, Hestrin said. The children would often be chained to their beds.
A source tells CBS News the younger six are now split between two foster homes. The seven adult siblings are in the nearby Corona Medical Center, where they’re being exposed to everything from Harry Potter movies to iPads.
As the legal case against the couple moves forward, the children they allegedly imprisoned for years are moving on with their lives and making decisions on their own for the first time.
“That in itself is a new experience for them, understanding that they do have rights and they do have a voice,” attorney Jack Osborn told CBS News’ Mireya Villarreal.
Osborn and Caleb Mason represent the older siblings. They say the staff at the Corona Medical Center has converted part of the hospital to make it more comfortable for the seven. They set up an outdoor area where they can play sports and exercise. Now they’re free to make their own choices.
“That’s a big deal, deciding what they’re going to read, deciding what they’re going to wear, these are all things that are decisions they make every day that are new and empowering,” Osborn said.
“They talk about how warm and loving these kids are and so appreciative,” said Corona Mayor Karen Spiegel, who works closely with the siblings’ nurses. “Some of them have never really seen a toothbrush before…Things that we just take for granted mean so much to these kids.”
The older and younger siblings have not yet reunited, but they communicate using Skype. In the short term, the attorneys say the older children simply want to go to the beach, the mountains and the movies. But over the longer term, they want to attend college and pursue careers.
“I just want you to understand just what special individuals they are,” Osborn said. “They all have their own aspirations and their own interests and now they may have an opportunity to address those, which is really exciting.”
If the case does go to trial, the Riverside County DA’s office has reportedly said the siblings would testify.
The Turpins are scheduled to appear in Riverside County Superior Court Friday afternoon for a felony settlement conference.