This content is not available in your region

California abusers 'should not face trial by media'

Access to the comments Comments
By Euronews
California abusers 'should not face trial by media'

Bail has been set at $12 million for the California parents who have pleaded "not guilty" to a total of 38 charges in relation to the abuse of their 13 children.

Defence attorneys face a battle to prevent global revulsion against David and Louise Turpin from prejudicing their court case. "We're going to provide a vigorous defence on behalf of Mr Turpin," said his lawyer, David Macher: "the case will be tried in court. It will not be tried in the media."

The Turpin children were discovered, filthy and starving, after one girl, aged 17, climbed out of a window and raised the alarm. She had been planning the escape for two years.

Shocking scene

Police uncovered a horrific scene, with all 13 victims frail and pale. Three of them were chained to their beds, in what was apparently a routine punishment for misdemeanours as minor as having been caught "washing above the wrists". Circumstantial evidence suggested that such treatment could go on for days, with the children not even been unchained to go to the toilet.

Mike Hestrin, Riverside County District Attorney described the severe malnourishment endured by the siblings, aged between 29 and 2, who survived on one meal a day whilst their parents ate well.

"All the victims were and are severely malnourished," he said. "Specifically, severe caloric malnutrition associated with muscle wasting. To give you an example, one of the children, at age 12, is the weight of an average 7-year-old. The 29-year-old female victim weighs just 82 pounds."

The children were only allowed to shower once a year, and were regularly beaten, even strangled.


Authorities are struggling to make sense of the family's life, and the glaring contradiction between the cruel living conditions the siblings endured, and the image the Turpins projected of happy family life.

David and Louise Turpin renew their vows with Elvis