RIVERSIDE (AP) — A Southern California couple who pleaded guilty to locking up and abusing 12 of their 13 children for years, as well as some of the victims, made their first public comments Friday during an emotion-charged hearing where the parents were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Louise Turpin wept and said she hoped to hug her children again one day. Her husband, David Turpin, was overcome with emotion as he tried to read his statement just after the two eldest of the couple’s 13 children, also in tears, described the impact of the abuse.
The children, ranging from 3 to 30, have not been publicly identified. Here are excerpts from their statements and from the judge:
Jane Doe 4, age 30:
“My parents took my whole life from me but now I’m taking my life back. I’m in college now and living independently.
“I believe everything happens for a reason. 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 but 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.”
John Doe 2, age 27:
“Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that have happened, such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten. But that is the past and this is now. I love my parents and have forgiven them for a lot of the things that they did to us.
“Since January I have learned so much and become very independent. In June of last year I learned how to ride a bike and ever since then I’ve been hooked and ride it everywhere, such as to school, the store, or sometimes I just go on long rides because I enjoy it so much.
“I’m getting a bachelor’s degree in software engineering and after I get my bachelor’s degree. I’m going to get a job as a software engineer and go to school part-time to get my master’s degree. I also have learned how to advocate for myself, how to swim, how to eat healthy and prepare a balanced meal. I have also been learning how to manage money wisely.”
John Doe 2, reading a statement from another sister:
“I love both of my parents so much. Although it may not have been the best way of raising us, I am glad that they did because it made me the person I am today. I just want to thank them for teaching me about God and faith. I hope that they never lose their faith. God looks at the heart and I know he sees theirs. I pray often for them.”
Attorney Janet Latourette, reading a statement on behalf of another daughter:
“I want the court to know that our parents loved each other and loved each of their children. People … said our parents were having too many children. Our parents didn’t agree. They felt that God blessed them with all their children so they kept away from the world and trusted God would guide them through life.
“Through the years things became more and more overwhelming but they kept trusting in God. I remember our mother sitting in her recliner and crying saying she don’t know what to do. She didn’t want to use rope or chain, but she was afraid her children were taking in too much sugar and caffeine. The reason our parents didn’t stop buying the soda was because father needed it for work. He would fall asleep driving and got in an accident. They didn’t know what else to do.
“I believe our parents feared if they asked for help, they would lose their children.
“I feel like 25 years is too long. I believe with all my heart our parents tried their best to raise all 13 of us and they wanted to give us a good life. They believed everything they did was to protect us.
“If at all possible, I would appreciate if the court would place our parents as close to the detention center they are in right now so if we ever want to visit them, we can.”
David Turpin’s attorney, Allison Lowe, read from his statement:
“I thank God for all of my children. Each one of them is a blessing from God. My homeschooling and discipline had good intentions. I never intended for any harm to come to my children. I’m sorry if I’ve done anything to cause them harm.
“I love my children and I believe my children love me. I hope and pray that my children can stay close to each other and look out for each other since their mother and father cannot be there for them and with them.”
David Turpin then took over reading, saying he wants his children to be successful in school.
“I am so proud of each and every one of my children. I miss all of my children and I will be praying for them. I long for the opportunity to have contact with them again.”
“I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to hurt my children. I love my children so much. I’m blessed to be the mother of each one of them. I really want the best for them. Their happiness is very important to me.
“They are very smart, amazing individuals. I hope they get all the education they need to make their dreams come true. They deserve only the best in life. I don’t want any of them to be sad or depressed because of all of this.
“I want them to know that Mom and Dad are going to be OK. … I really look forward to the day I can see them, hug them and tell them I’m sorry.”
Judge Bernard Schwartz:
The lives of the children “have been permanently altered in their ability to learn, grow and thrive. You have delayed their mental, physical and emotional health. To the extent that they do thrive … it’ll be not because of you both but in spite of you both.
“The only reason that your punishment is less than the maximum time in my opinion is because you accepted responsibility at an early stage in the proceedings to spare your children from having to relive the humiliation and the harm they endured in that house of horrors.”