Christian homeschoolers in California accused of torturing their 13 children plead not guilty, and are held on bail of $12 million each.
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were placed under arrest earlier this week after police found their 13 children emaciated and “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings” in their family home.
ABC News reports the couple “face up to 94 years to life in prison if convicted of a number of charges,” noting:
The Turpins appeared in court Thursday afternoon shackled and in dress clothes and entered pleas of not guilty at their arraignment. A court conference was scheduled for Feb. 23 in Riverside. They were ordered held on bail of $12 million each.
The Turpins are charged with 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse on a dependent adult, 12 counts of false imprisonment and six counts of child abuse, each.
David Turpin faces an additional charge of committing a lewd act on a child by force.
James and Betty Turpin, the parents of David Turpin, and grandparents to the abused children, said that “God called on them” (referring to their son David and his wife Louise) to have as many children as possible.
The grandparents also report that the children were given “very strict home-schooling,” and that the children were forced to memorize long passages of the Bible.
The Washington Post reports:
The siblings’ grandparents told ABC News that during the children’s home schooling, they were made to memorize long scriptures of the Bible, with some memorizing the entire book.
Commenting on the horrific case, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said:
This is severe, emotional and physical abuse. There is no way around that. This is depraved conduct.
In more than 20 years as a prosecutor in Riverside County, this is one of the most disturbing cases I’ve seen. We are fully prepared to seek justice in this case and to do so in a way that protects all of these victims from further harm.
Hestrin noted that while the children were supposed to be homeschooled, they were so clueless about the world that “many of the children didn’t know what a police officer was.”
Note: While homeschooling can be a good fit for some children, often the parents are not qualified either by temperament or education to be homeschooling their children. Add to that the ignorance and bigotry associated with religious superstition, and one is left with a toxic brew ripe for abuse and neglect in the world of Christian homeschooling.
However, being shackled and tortured is not the only hazard faced by children forced into the secretive and sometimes dangerous world of Christian homeschooling. One need only recall the tragic life and death of Leelah Alcorn, or the tragic circumstances of the Duggar family, to recognize the dangers inherent in the Christian homeschooling movement.
Bottom line: Christian homeschoolers in California who kept their children shackled to their beds in dark and foul-smelling surroundings while forcing them to memorize Bible verses plead not guilty to multiple charges of torture and abuse.