A Superior Court judge on Thursday, March 10, ordered unsealed “hundreds and hundreds of documents” related to Riverside County’s care of the 13 Turpin children who endured years of abuse in their Perris home before one snuck out in 2018 and called police.
The records, which the county originally had refused to make public, are expected to provide insight into complaints three of the adult Turpins made in a nationally televised interview in November 2021 that the county housed them in crime-ridden neighborhoods and that they had difficulty accessing the money in a county-controlled trust fund.
That same month, three members of a foster family were charged with abusing nine children, including five who evidence suggests are minor Turpin children.
In that ABC News interview, District Attorney Mike Hestrin said the Turpins “have been victimized again by the system.”
ABC News filed the motion that resulted in the documents being made public Thursday. Judge Kenneth Fernandez, in a ruling at the Historic Courthouse in Riverside, rejected the network’s request to make public the addresses where the Turpins previously had lived while in county care. ABC News did not seek medical records, which will remain sealed.
Riverside County attorneys did not protest the unsealing of records at Thursday’s hearing.
ABC News attorney Jean-Paul Jassy argued for the release of the previous addresses on two fronts: One, by law there is a presumption of open public access to records. And second, identifying where the Turpins lived would help the public weigh whether the county failed them, as they asserted.
One of the Turpin adults was assaulted as a result of where that person lived, Jassy alleged. What’s more, he said, some of the Turpin adults currently live where some of their siblings once resided.
“If those addresses were risky (then) … they very well likely are still risky,” Jassy told the judge.
Kenneth P. White, with the law firm Brown White & Osborn, which is representing the seven adult Turpins, said his clients were agreeable to the release of most records, but not medical or their past addresses.
“They have expressed genuine fear and concern,” White said. “Modern celebrity is horrifying. … Our clients are concerned about stalkers.”
Fernandez agreed and noted that the Turpins’ plight made worldwide news.
“Don’t I have to try to protect a very vulnerable population from further harassment or abuse?” he said before keeping their previous addresses secret.
On April 19, 2019, the parents, David Allen Turpin and Louise Ann Turpin, were sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison after pleading guilty to six counts of dependent adult abuse, four counts of false imprisonment, three counts of child endangerment and one count of torture.