The Turpin siblings escaped their parents’ Riverside County home in 2018 after years of horrific abuse in captivity, and now the six youngest are suing the county and a private foster care agency for ignoring what they claim were years of “severe abuse and neglect” they suffered while in the system.
The family filed two lawsuits in a California court against Riverside County and ChildNet, alleging six of the 13 siblings were victims of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by a foster family they were placed with after the dramatic rescue from their childhood home, dubbed a “House of Horror” in the media four years ago.
“It’s not only shocking, it should make everyone angry,” said Elan Zekster, an attorney representing two of the oldest siblings suing for damages. “These children who were chained to their beds for a great majority of their life finally are free, and then the county places them with ChildNet and puts them in another position where they are further abused.”
Attorneys representing the Turpins said that the abuse in the foster home went on for three years, until one of the children was old enough to leave and told a social worker, leading to a criminal investigation of the foster family, who have since been arrested and charged with multiple accounts of abuse and neglect. They pleaded not guilty.
The lawsuits allege that the foster family being paid to take care of the Turpins was “hitting them in the face with sandals, pulling their hair, hitting them with a belt, and striking their heads.” Some of the six children also accused their former foster father of sexual abuse, while both parents in the home told them “that they were worthless” and encouraged the children to harm themselves.
“And while the kids were being abused further, the county closed their eyes,” Zekster added during an interview with Good Morning America.
A previous ABC News investigation for Diane Sawyer special Escape From A House Of Horror unearthed that ChildNet foster families were found by state investigators to have mistreated their foster children in more than two dozen cases.
The lawsuits allege Riverside County and ChildNet knew that the foster family the Turpin siblings were placed with was “unfit to be foster parents because they had a prior history of abusing and neglecting children who had been placed in their care.”
Both Riverside County and ChildNet declined comment, but the foster care agency told ABC News in 2021, “We take our work very seriously, including the extensive vetting of parents.”
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.