A former classmate of the eldest sibling held captive in her home with her 12 brothers and sisters has written a gut-wrenching Facebook post about the bullying she endured.
Earlier this month, a 17-year-old girl escaped from her Perris, California home to report horrific abuse that she and her siblings were enduring, allegedly at the hands of their parents David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49. Police found her siblings, ranging in age from 2 to 29, with some of them allegedly shackled to furniture, inside their dark and "foul-smelling" home.
A man who went to elementary school with the oldest victim, a 29-year-old woman, said he felt an “overwhelming sense of guilt and shame.”
“Every grade level had a designated ‘cootie kid’ and she held the title for our year,” Taha Muntajibuddin wrote. “She was a frail girl, had pin-straight hair with bangs, and often wore the same purple outfit. She was often made fun of by the other third graders because her clothes would sometimes look as though they had been dragged through mud, which she would also smell like on most days. I distinctly remember my entire third grade class scoffing at her one day because our teacher had asked her to discard a scrunchy she had used to tie her hair out of a discarded tin foil wrapper from an old Hershey's bar.”
He went on to say that after she moved away, he thought of her from time to time and just assumed that she had done well for herself, like so many other unpopular children.
“I feel like we all kind of have that hope that those people who were marginalized growing up (sometimes by our own hands) somehow grew past those circumstances, and essentially grew up to kick ass in real life. That's what I had hoped for [her]. That she had used the insults that we hurled at her, the isolation we provided for her, and the ill-looks we gave her and used it as ammunition to forge a successful path in life.”
Then, he said he saw all the news articles about his former classmate and the horrible abuse she has allegedly endured, including severe malnutrition.
“Of course, none of us are responsible for the events that ensued, but you can't help but feel rotten when the classmate your peers made fun of for ‘smelling like poop’ quite literally had to sit in her own waste because she was chained to her bed,” Muntajibuddin wrote. “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.”
The Turpins have pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges, including torture, child abuse, abuse of dependent adults and false imprisonment. David Turpin has also pleaded not guilty to his additional charge of committing a lewd act on one of the female children by force, according to The Washington Post.
Each defendant's bail is set at $13 million, Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin said at a news conference. If they are found guilty, they could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
David Turpin’s attorney, David Macher, said outside the courtroom that “our clients are presumed to be innocent — and that’s a very important presumption," adding that the case will be tried in court, not in the media.