As David and Louise Turpin’s criminal case proceeds, the questions of their parental rights and their children’s long-term future will likely be decided in another courtroom.
The Southern California couple is charged with torturing and starving 12 of their 13 children over a prolonged period of time. They have pleaded not guilty on all counts.
The couple’s children, who range in age from 2 to 29, are being cared for at local hospitals. Here is what the future may hold for the Turpin siblings:
The alleged mistreatment, which prosecutors say included choking, could have severe psychological effects. The victims could suffer from complex post-traumatic stress disorder, which results from trauma that took place over a long period of time or in captivity, said Dr. Frank Ochberg, a psychiatrist and pioneer in trauma science.
“We can assume that there could be depression and nightmares,” said Ochberg, a key prosecution witness in the trial of Ariel Castro in Ohio. In 2013, Castro was sentenced to life without parole, plus 1,000 years, for kidnapping, raping and assaulting three women over several years.
Most of the Turpin children suffered from severe caloric malnutrition, and several have cognitive impairment as a result of abuse, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said.
That means they were deprived of vitamins and minerals essential to their development, Dr. Roshini Raj, an associate professor of medicine at New York University, told HLN.
She said it may take a long time to get the victims to a healthy weight. “But it can be done,” said Raj, an internist.