'House of horrors' parents get life in jail for torturing their 13 children
THE children of a California couple sentenced to life in prison for torturing them in a case that has shocked the United States have said they "forgive" their parents as they begged the judge for a more lenient sentence.
David and Louise Turpin's 13 children were found malnourished, shackled to beds and living in filth when one daughter, aged 17, escaped and raised the alarm in January.
"I love both of my parents so much," said one of the daughters, in a statement read by her brother at a sentencing hearing yesterday.
The comments were echoed by some of the other children, with one asking for a lighter sentence because they "believed everything they did was to protect us".
The couple, who pleaded guilty to 14 charges including child abuse and torture in February, have been sentenced to life with no chance of parole for the first 25 years.
The "house of horrors" case shocked the US after the scale of the abuse was laid bare. When police entered the property in Perris, California, they said it was covered in filth and the stench of human waste was overwhelming.
The Turpins' offspring, aged at the time from two to 29, were so severely malnourished they needed urgent treatment for muscle wastage and neurological conditions. At least two girls have been left unable to bear children.
The deeply religious couple told the court they believed God had called on them to have so many children.
Louise Turpin (50) wept as statements from the children were read out. These spoke of love for their parents, but also what they had suffered.
One of the girls pleaded for a lenient sentence, saying her parents believed "God put it into their hearts" to home school the 13 children, but they were unable to cope.
Another said: "Life may have been bad, but it made me strong. I fought to become the person that I am. I saw my dad change my mom. They almost changed me, but I realised what was happening... I'm strong and I'm shooting through life like a rocket."
Ahead of sentencing, David Turpin (57) told the judge he never intended to harm his children. "My home schooling and discipline had good intentions," he said. Louise added: "I'm sorry for everything I've done to hurt my children. I love my children so much."
Judge Bernard Schwartz told the couple they had delayed their children's "emotional, mental and physical development" as he jailed them.
The court had previously heard how the children were only allowed to shower once a year and were mainly kept in their rooms except for meals, which had been reduced from three to one per day.
Other than an occasional family trip to Las Vegas or to Disneyland, they rarely left the house. They slept during the day and were active for a few hours at night. Investigators found the toddler had not been abused, but all of the children had to be treated in hospital after they were discovered. (© Daily Telegraph, London)