RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CBSLA/AP) — A Perris man charged, along with his wife, of torturing and imprisoning his 13 children pleaded not guilty to lying on government forms about their schooling.
David Turpin, 57, entered the pleas Friday in a Riverside County Superior courtroom to eight counts of perjury. His wife, Louis Ann Turpin, 49, pleaded not guilty to three charges of false imprisonment and one of assault.
The DA’s office said the charges against David Turpin were connected to a private school affidavit he filed with the California Department of Education between 2010 and 2017, in which he claimed his children were receiving a full-time education in a private school.
The couple are already each facing 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse or neglect, 12 counts of false imprisonment and three counts of cruelty against a child. David is charged with one count of lewd act on a child, while Louis is charged with one count of felony assault.
They have previously pleaded not guilty to these charges. They are each being held on $12 million bail.
The charges relate to behavior going back to at least 2010 and apply to the cities of Murrieta and Perris. The couple have pleaded not guilty. They have been barred from any contact with their children.
The Turpin children were all home-schooled, officials have said. According to the state DOE, the Perris home where the children were rescued from in January was registered as a private school called Sandcastle Day School. David Turpin was listed as the principal.
One of the older boys took some classes at Mt. San Jacinto College, a community college, but his mother would take him to the campus and wait outside class for him.
Private schools in California are not licensed by the state education department and no agency regulates or oversees them. The schools are only required to file an affidavit with the state each year that lists the number of students, staff members and information about administrators.
Full-time private schools must register with the state to record their students’ exemption from mandatory attendance at public schools, but the education department lacks the authority to monitor, inspect or oversee private schools.
On Jan. 14, the Turpin children – ages 2 to 29 – were rescued from their home in the 100 block of Muir Woods Road after one of them, a 17-year-old girl, escaped through a window and called 911 from a deactivated phone.
After interviewing the girl, deputies responded to the home, where they found her parents and 12 siblings — six of whom are under the age of 18 — living in dirty, deplorable conditions. The siblings were so malnourished many of them appeared younger than their actual ages.
When deputies entered, at least three of the children were shackled to furniture, officials said.
Prosecutors said that 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. The punishments would last for weeks and months at a time. The children were also not allowed to have toys.
The abuse appears to have started when the family resided in Fort Worth, Texas, prosecutors with the Riverside County District Attorney’s office said.
The family moved to Murrieta in 2010 after living in Texas for 17 years.
Beginning many years ago, the children would be tied up with rope, prosecutors alleged. Then the couple began using chains and padlocks. The children would often be chained to their beds.
The seven adult children were released from a hospital in March and are living together under supervision. The six minors have also been released from a hospital and are living in two separate foster homes, seeing each other often.
According to legal documents obtained by CBS2, the couple declared bankruptcy while living in Murrieta. The bankruptcy filing indicates David Turpin worked as an engineer for Northrop Grumman in San Diego.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)