Six siblings removed from a home where they were beaten and starved filed suit Tuesday against foster care agencies and a Southern California county, claiming they were "horrifically abused" again following their rescue.
The youngest six children of David and Louise Turpin were carelessly placed with abusive, unfit foster parents, according to the Riverside County Superior Court civil complaint filed by attorneys and legal partners Elan Zektser and Roger Booth.
The siblings filed two nearly identical lawsuits, one representing two and one representing the other four. The lawsuits did not name a money figure for potential damages.
Four years ago, the plaintiffs were among 13 siblings removed from their home in Perris — about 70 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles — where they had been tortured, starved and neglected. Their parents were eventually convicted on a host of abuse charges and sentenced to 25 years to life behind bars.
The plaintiffs were placed in a foster home where they were victimized for another three years, according to the lawsuit which names Riverside County, ChildNet Youth and Family Services and the Foster Family Network as defendants.
The plaintiffs were placed into the care of foster parents, identified only as "Mr. and Mrs. O," who "defendants knew that they were unfit to be foster parents," the lawsuits said.
Mr. O sexually abused more than one of the plaintiffs by "among other things, grabbing and fondling their buttocks, legs and breasts, kissing them on the mouth and making sexually suggestive comments," both lawsuits said.
The abusive foster parents and their adult daughter also allegedly physically abused the children, "pulling their hair, hitting them with a belt and striking their heads," both lawsuits said.
Even though David and Louise Turpin are serving long prison terms, the defendants allegedly threatened to "return the children to their biological parents" and forced "them to eat their own vomit," both complaints said.
Brett Lewis, a spokesman for ChildNet and its Foster Family Network program, declined to discuss the lawsuit in detail.
“We look forward to providing the facts at the appropriate time in court," Lewis said. "Our agency has been serving California’s most vulnerable, traumatized youth for over 50 years. We have a strong track record of providing excellent care and continue to demonstrate our commitment to these children."
Riverside County representative Gene Kennedy said counsel is still evaluating the complaint.
"We deeply care about the safety and wellbeing of every single child under our care," Kennedy said.
"Our hearts go out to the Turpin siblings. Any instance when a child is harmed is heartbreaking," he said. "We continue to evaluate our practices with a critical eye and are committed to understanding and addressing the root cause. This includes expanding the availability of quality and safe placements for all children in foster care."
Zektser lamented how the plaintiffs were forced to suffer for so long.
“The Turpin 13 endured some of the most sickening child abuse the County of Riverside has ever seen. After these vulnerable children were freed, they were placed by the County through ChildNet into a known abusive foster home," Zektser said.
"It is beyond shocking that the County and ChildNet let these kids get horrifically abused once again. Our communities should be appalled. We must always speak up for our children. Always.”