LOS ANGELES — The parents accused of torturing 12 of their children and keeping them chained to beds for months and so malnourished their growth was stunted will appear in court Wednesday as prosecutors ask a judge to bar them from contacting their kids — at least one of whom, according to a heart-wrenching Facebook post from a former classmate, was bullied as a result of the abuse.
The court proceeding is the latest step as authorities seek to sever ties between David and Louise Turpin and their 13 children — between 2 and 29 years old — who were rescued from their home in Perris, California, on Jan. 14. They have pleaded not guilty to torture, abuse and other charges.
Riverside County prosecutors are seeking a protective order that would prohibit the Turpins from having any contact with their children, district attorney’s office spokesman John Hall said.
The case has attention from around the world and about 20 people from across the U.S., including nurses and psychologists, have offered to take the seven adult children and six minors and keep them together. The Riverside University Health System Foundation, which is collecting money for the siblings, so far has received 1,500 donations totaling $120,000, spokeswoman Kim Trone said.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested the husband and wife after their 17-year-old daughter climbed out a window and called 911. Authorities found the siblings in the family’s filthy California home, three of whom were shackled to beds. Neighbors and relatives said they were unaware of the children’s treatment until authorities arrested the parents and revealed what they found inside.
In a heart-wrenching Facebook post, a former classmate of the oldest Turpin sibling recalled that she was picked on as a grade school student in Texas.
Taha Muntajibuddin, who attended kindergarten through third grade with her in Fort Worth, Texas, described her as “a frail girl, had pin-straight hair with bangs, and often wore the same purple outfit.” After learning of the case, he shared on Facebook his “overwhelming sense of guilt and shame” over how she was treated.
He wrote that it was jarring to learn that the girl, who was teased in school for being smelly, “quite literally had to sit in her own waste because she was chained to her bed.”
“It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story,” he wrote.
The post has elicited a strong reaction, with some condemning Muntajibuddin for his behavior as a child. Others praised him for addressing it.
Muntajibuddin said in an interview Tuesday that he was surprised by the reaction.
“It was just meant to be an honest lesson: take it or leave it,” he said.
Muntajibuddin said he is hopeful his former classmate can recover and lived an enriched life.
He said despite being bullied by her peers, she “was still one of the most pleasant people I have had the opportunity to meet. She had this whimsical optimism to her that couldn’t be dampened, couldn’t be doused no matter what anybody threw at her.”
The AP is not naming the siblings because of the severity of abuse allegations, which are still under investigation. The AP also has not been able to talk to the children, including the 29-year-old, or anyone who can speak on their behalf.
Crowley Independent School District spokesman Anthony Kirchner confirmed Muntajibuddin and the victim attended the same school.
Kirchner said he was unable to confirm when she enrolled or when she left school, or whether any of her younger siblings attended, because districts are only required to keep elementary student records for five years.
Another classmate, Stephanie Hernandez, told the AP in a Facebook message that the girl was quiet and always wore dirt-stained jeans that were too small. Hernandez said she often was bullied.
“I remember someone kind of slung her around like a rag doll,” said Hernandez, a registered nurse in Mansfield, Texas.