Turpin siblings file lawsuit against Riverside County alleging 'severe abuse' in foster care after rescue

Six of the 13 Turpin siblings have filed lawsuits against Riverside County and a Long Beach-based private foster care agency for placing them in another allegedly abusive household, where their attorneys say they were subjected to sexual assaults, psychological torment and other offenses years after the 2018 rescue from their parents' Perris home. 

According to the two lawsuits filed overnight in California court, the siblings allege they suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by a foster family they were placed with, saying the foster care agency ChildNet "failed to report" the "severe abuse and neglect" when they were told about it.

"The 13 Turpin children endured some of the most sickening child abuse the county has ever seen," Los Angeles attorney Elan Zektser, who is representing two of the adult children, said. "After these vulnerable children were freed (from their parents), they were placed by the county through ChildNet into a known abusive foster home. It is beyond shocking that the county and ChildNet let these kids get horrifically abused once again. Our communities should be appalled."

Zektser has teamed with another litigator, Roger Booth, who is representing four of the younger kids, in filing civil complaints seeking unspecified damage awards from the county and Long Beach-based ChildNet on behalf of their clients in Riverside County Superior Court.

The lawsuits come after a 634-page report from a law firm hired by Riverside County to investigate their care was made public earlier this month. The report revealed the Turpin siblings were forced to live with people who were later charged with child abuse and some adult siblings struggled to get money for housing and food.

The report, which summarized findings of a months-long investigation, concluded that the county’s social services system was short-staffed and underfunded, leaving workers struggling with high caseloads that made it hard to ensure safety and care "for our most vulnerable populations." It made several reform recommendations.

The 13 victims, whose ages now range from 5 to 32, were made wards of the state and came under the supervision of county Child Protective Services. The agency initiated a process of finding foster care homes for them in January 2018, relying on the services of ChildNet, also known as Foster Family Network.

According to the complaint, the siblings were kept in the foster home for three years even after they alerted officials they were being abused. 

The plaintiffs allege that from April 2018 onward, they were targeted in relentless forms of mental and physical torment, and that one of the older Turpin children "had conversations with defendants' social workers in which she conveyed information and asked for help."

The abuse accusations include "hitting them in the face with sandals, pulling their hair, hitting them with a belt, and striking their heads." The complaint alleges despite this, the siblings were put in their care anyway.

When the county and ChildNet were made aware that the Turpin siblings were being abused by their foster family, according to the complaint, it was not reported to law enforcement or child protective services. Instead, ChildNet and the county "actively withheld this information from the authorities," the complaint alleges.

Prosecutors have charged a Perris couple and their adult daughter with abuse. Marcelino Olguin, his wife Rosa and their daughter Lennys have pleaded not guilty to child cruelty and other felony charges.

According to Zektser's complaint, several of the Turpin girls were objects of lascivious attention from Marcelino Olguin, with him "grabbing and fondling (their) buttocks, legs, breasts" and "kissing them on their mouths and making sexually suggestive comments."

There were instances of the Olguins "pulling their hair, hitting them with a belt and striking their heads," according to the complaint.

The document recited the following other forms of alleged abuse: "making the plaintiffs sit by themselves, sometimes outside, for many hours at a time"; "making plaintiffs sit in a circle and recount, in detail, the horrors that they had experienced while living with their parents"; "verbally abusing plaintiffs, cursing at them, and telling them that they were worthless and should commit suicide"; "forcing them to eat until they began to vomit," then compelling them "to eat their own vomit."

The Olguins further allegedly told the children that "nobody would ever love them," according to Zektser's complaint.

The plaintiffs said the alleged abuse continued until the spring of 2021, when a sheriff's investigation resulted in the Olguins' arrests. They're out of custody on six-figure bonds, awaiting trial.

The six siblings have either since been emancipated or placed in alternate foster care homes, where no problems have been reported.

Zektser and Booth point to a train of failings on the part of CPS and ChildNet. The thrust of the joint civil actions is that the county and ChildNet were grossly negligent and irresponsible.

The 13 Turpin siblings were rescued from their home in 2018, after years of neglect at the hands of their parents, including being chained to their beds for months at a time. David and Louise Turpin pleaded guilty in 2019 to years of torturing and abusing 12 of the 13 children and have been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

FOX 11 has reached out to both Riverside County and ChildNet for comment in connection with the lawsuits but has not yet heard back. 

City News Service contributed to this report.