California torture house: Adult Turpin children aren't bitter after alleged abuse

"They came from a situation that seemed normal to them. And now, they're in a new normal," said the attorney for the adult children.

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By Elisha Fieldstadt and Miguel Almaguer

They were allegedly held captive, starved and abused by their parents, but sometimes they still miss them.

Last year, the world watched in horror as prosecutors described abuse the Turpin siblings had suffered at the hands of their parents, David and Louise. Twelve of the 13 children were allegedly beaten, shackled to their beds, malnourished, denied access to the bathroom and permitted to shower only once a year.

"They do worry about their parents, and I think at times they do miss their parents," said Jack Osborn, who is representing the seven adult children. "They're not bitter. They really take every day as it is, as a gift."

All but the youngest of the children — who range from 2 to 29 — were abused, prosecutors said. And one of the girls was the victim of a lewd act allegedly at the hands of her father.

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David Turpin, second right, and Louise Turpin, second left, appear in court for their arraignment in Riverside, California on Jan. 18, 2018.Frederic J. Brown / Pool via Reuters

One of the teen children escaped the Perris home in January 2018 and used a cellphone to call police, who first thought the adult children were minors because they were so emaciated.

"They came from a situation that seemed normal to them. And now, they're in a new normal," Osborn said, adding that it would take a long time for them to process the change.

"For really the first time they're able to make their own decisions," he said. "What they're going to eat ... where they're going to go, what they're going to study."

"They're still becoming independent," Osborn said. "And they'll tell you that it's kind of a lifelong thing."

David and Louise Turpin were charged with 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse on a dependent adult, 12 counts of false imprisonment and six counts of child abuse. David Turpin was also charged with committing a lewd act on a child by force. Their trial is set to begin Sept. 3.

The six younger children are in the custody of the county, but do get to see their older brothers and sisters.

"The older children are extremely protective of the younger ones," Osborn said. "So, when they do have time together, there's a lot of nurturing. There is a lot of reassuring."

While the Turpins brought their kids to Las Vegas three times to renew their vows, 12 of the 13 children were rarely allowed to leave the house. The parents would buy toys, but not allow the kids to open the packages, prosecutors said. They would bake pies, but not allow the famished children to eat them.

But after all they endured, the older children don't want to be seen as victims, Osborn said. "They want people to know that they are survivors."