News Channel 3 is getting a first look into a long-awaited report detailing the findings of an investigation into the county's care of the Turpin siblings, who were abused for years in a Perris home.
Part of the assessment reads:Larson LLP report
"With respect to the Turpin siblings, we conclude there were many times over the last four years that they received the care they needed from the County. This was not always the case, however, and all too often the social services system failed them. Some of the younger Turpin children were placed with caregivers who were later charged with child abuse. Some of the older siblings experienced periods of housing instability and food insecurity as they transitioned to independence. Some of the Turpin siblings found it too difficult to access the funds intended for their use. Many were caught in the middle of confusing and complicated legal proceedings. When they complained about their circumstances, they often felt frustrated, unheard, and stifled by the system."
Riverside County provided information to News Channel 3 confirming that "all $400,000 in the special needs trusts for the Turpin siblings has been accounted for and there was no misappropriation or theft."
The independent review of the county’s services for children and vulnerable adults conducted by Larson LLP is now available to the public.— County of Riverside (@RivCoNow) July 8, 2022
The report is linked in the News Release: https://t.co/dwihSCBSkE #RivCoNOW pic.twitter.com/SnB8Sgzddh
Along with the Turpin children, Larson and his team were tasked with scrutinizing the county's entire dependent care system. The report makes recommendations to "improve outcomes for vulnerable children and adults under the supervision and care of Riverside County through a combination of policy, practice, and procedural changes."
According to a news release from Riverside County, Here are three critical areas for continued improvement:
- Increase staffing and compensation packages in the Children’s Services Division (CSD) and Office of the Public Guardian. These programs are severely understaffed resulting in overwhelming caseloads. The county is positioning itself to compete for social workers amidst a national shortage and high attrition in this field. Additionally, a number of new positions were added to the Office of the Public Guardian.
- Specifically, as it relates to CSD, expand quality, safe and available placements for children with heightened complex needs. The shortage of placements is a local, statewide and national issue and community support is needed to find the best foster parents.
- Create a “No Wrong Door” safety net system where are all departments are focused on the client, not the program. More than 40 percent of Riverside County residents receive some level of support from our human services departments. In the last year, the county has dedicated $6.5 million to this effort, including piloting a one-stop office front for residents. There are some state laws that need to change to reach this goal. The county is working on a state senate bill sponsored by Senator Ochoa Bogh to allow information sharing across departments providing holistic care. This bill is on its way to becoming law.
“As public servants, our duty is to ensure that our most vulnerable communities are receiving the care and protection they deserve,” said Supervisor Karen Spiegel, second district supervisor and ad hoc committee co-chair in a statement provided to News Channel 3. “I am dedicated to making sure we have the tools, resources, and staffing to provide that care. This is the time to act and I will support all efforts to meet the challenge.”
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors is expecting to discuss the report and hear from Larson LLP, the group behind the investigation, at a meeting next week. As part of the agenda for that meeting, a heavily redacted version of that report has been made public.
In a message to constituents, Supervisor Kevin Jeffries said this about the report:
"The long-awaited report on the County’s handling of the Turpin Children is finally going to be released and discussed at the BOS Meeting on July 12th. The Bad News: The Courts have ordered it redacted/censored to the point of uselessness to the general public. The Good News:
County leaders are finally allowed to read the unredacted document and will be able to make changes (or
continue changes) to improve our bureaucratic systems moving forward."
This is an image of the redacted section that focuses on the experience of the Turpin siblings.
You can read the public versions of the reports here:
News Channel 3 has a crew reviewing the report and will have in-depth coverage tonight at 5:00 and 6:00.
In Jan. 2018, authorities discovered that the 12 of the 13 Turpin siblings were shackled, starved, and physically abused by their parents, David Allen Turpin, 59, and Louise Ann Turpin, 52, The abuse had gone on for years in their Perris home.
The Turpin parents were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison a little over a year after the discovery.
After their parents' arrest, the 13 Turpin siblings, whose ages at the time ranged from 3 to 30, were placed in the care of county Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services staff.
In November 2021, two of the Turpin siblings revealed in an ABC News interview that some of the children were still living in squalor despite $600,000 in donations and additional pledges of support.
"They have been victimized again by the system," Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin told ABC News' Diane Sawyer.
In addition, a foster family with suspected links to some of the Turpin children was charged after being accused of physically and psychologically abusing several foster children.
In October, the county hired Larson LLP to conduct an independent and comprehensive analysis and assessment of the services provided to the Turpin siblings. The investigation is led by former U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson and Hilary Potashner, a former Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California.
In March, Potashner told the Board of Supervisors that at the time, over 85 interviews had been conducted, utilizing the expertise of sociologists, public policy analysts, and other experts from UCLA, UC Berkeley, Virginia Tech, and other institutions.
Along with the Turpin children, Larson and his team were tasked with scrutinizing the county's entire dependent care system.
After a few delays, the report will present its findings during the July 12 Board of Supervisors meeting.
The report was originally expected on May 31, but it was delayed a few weeks to allow time for Larson LLP to review and incorporate recently released court records and to make court-ordered redactions- Brooke Federico, Director of Communications for Riverside County.
Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates on this investigation.
The Turpin Family Case
In Jan. 2018, authorities discovered the 13 Turpin siblings were held captive, abused, and tortured by their parents, David Allen Turpin, 59, and Louise Ann Turpin, 52, for years in their Perris home.
The "house of horrors" was discovered when one of the Turpin girls, then-17-year-old Jordan Turpin, managed to escape through a window and call 911. The harrowing discovery by police was captured on a body cam.
The gut-wrenching 911 call was just the tip of the torture and horrifying conditions found inside the family's home.
“They chain us up if we do things we’re not supposed to,” Jordan Turpin told a 911 dispatcher. “Sometimes, my sisters wake up and start crying (because of the pain).”
Police bodycam video of the rescue shows law enforcement questioning the parents and searching through the home, exposing the cruel living conditions.
"My whole body was shaking. I couldn't really dial 911 because..." an emotional Jordan recalls before choking up.
According to the witness, the girl described a compulsory sleep schedule of 20 hours a day and a middle-of-the-night meal — combination “lunch and dinner” — that consisted of peanut butter sandwiches, chips and microwave-heated burritos.
The girl’s only exercise was pacing back and forth in the room she shared with her two younger sisters, according to the deputy.
He said the filth and stench in the bedroom was so overwhelming that the teen told him she often couldn’t breathe and had to stick her head out the window for relief.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin said the victims were allowed to shower only once a year.
The siblings were virtually imprisoned, according to testimony, and the only time they were free to leave their assigned quarters was when both parents were out of the house.
D.A.’s office Investigator Wade Walsvick testified that all but one of the victims — the youngest, a now-3-year-old girl — were severely malnourished.
Walsvick testified that when he spoke to the oldest son, who was then 26, the victim revealed how he and his siblings were locked inside cages if their parents became angry with them. There were beatings with paddles, “hitting on the face, slapping, pushing and being thrown across the room or to the ground,” the witness said
The Turpin parents were pleaded guilty in February 2019 to six counts of cruelty to a dependent adult, four counts of false imprisonment, three counts of child abuse and one count of torture.
Each was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison in 2019.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” their 30-year-old daughter said. “Life may have been bad, but it made me strong. I fought to become the person I am. I saw my dad change my mom. They almost changed me. When I realized what was happening, I immediately did what I could to not become like them. I’m a fighter. I’m strong and I’m shooting through life like a rocket.”
State of the Foster Care System in Riverside County
The revelations from ABC News' Turpin interview raised many questions about the state of Riverside County's foster care system.
On December 16, a Perris foster care couple and their adult daughter with suspected links to some of the Turpin children pleaded not guilty to multiple abuse charges.
Marcelino, Lennys, and Rosa Olguin were arrested on Nov. 3 and charged with a combined 17 counts of child cruelty. Marcelino was charged with four counts of lewd acts with a minor.
None of the Turpin children are specifically identified in court papers, but the initial J.T. are listed for one of the victims. The case also dates back to April 2018.
Circumstantial evidence in courts papers links the Olguins as foster parents of the Turpin children, a short time after they were rescued from the Perris home they say their parents had turned into a prison for them and their siblings.
The alleged offenses occurred between April 2018 and March 2021. The Turpin children were rescued in January 2018.
In December, the Board of Supervisors voted to form a committee tasked with ferreting out where Riverside County inter-agency systems can be improved to better protect vulnerable children and adults.
The Ad-Hoc Committee, composed of Supervisors Kevin Jeffries and Karen Spiegel, has been conducting an investigation separate but in line with the Larson probe. Jeffries said in March that it has been "the most frustrating time I've experienced as a supervisor."
Jeffries said at the time that so far the committee had confirmed the obvious -- county welfare personnel are "grossly under-staffed and over-worked,'' and too many cases involving vulnerable children and adults receive "minimal supervision."
Spiegel, too, expressed frustration, but admitted that "our hands are tied," mainly because the Larson probe is incomplete. She and Jeffries have determined in their committee hearings that one of the most glaring shortfalls is a lack of "conversation between agencies."
"If you cannot talk and share, how can we do better work on behalf of folks?" Spiegel said.
The two supervisors' filed an initial report citing the need for "collaborative interagency" efforts so that county workers work as teams to better manage cases.
The supervisors also advocated the county's support for Senate Bill 1054, authored by Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, R-Beaumont, which would remove some of the regulatory red tape preventing child and adult protective agencies from sharing information to enhance treatment and intervention practices.
Statement from County CEO Jeff Van Wagenen about the CPS Report
"While we continue to cooperate with Larson LLP and look forward to receiving their report, the important work of the Board of Supervisors’ ad hoc committee continues. This county is committed to making the improvements needed in the system, which will result in better, safer outcomes for vulnerable children and adults in our community. "
Check Out Some of Our Previous Coverage of the Turpin Family:
- Turpin children care investigation delayed due to bureaucratic hurdles
- Turpin sisters who escaped Perris ‘house of horrors’ speak out: ‘I thought I was going to die’
- RivCo launches probe into services & care of Turpin siblings; some still ‘living in squalor’
- Following questions of Turpin children care, Supervisors approve formation of committee to improve social services
- Trapped Turpin teen posted YouTube videos before escaping
- Adult Turpin siblings released from hospital
- Turpin parents planning Oklahoma move before arrest
- Horrors inside Perris prison home detailed by DA
- I-Team Exclusive: Interview with Perris prison home DA
- Turpins barred from contacting children in Perris prison home case