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Two of the 13 children who survived their parents' lack of care in what became known as the “House of Horrors” have filed a lawsuit claiming various agencies later placed them with foster parents who they should have known would also subject the kids to abuse.
The Turpin siblings — known only as Jane Doe 5 and Jane Doe 6 in the complaint — are suing the California foster family agencies that placed the kids in a home in 2018, shortly after they were rescued from their biological parents, according to a lawsuit reviewed by Oxygen.com. The plaintiffs claim that ChildNet Youth and Family Services Inc. and the Foster Family Network (related licensed business entities collectively known as “ChildNet”) allegedly put greed before the children’s best interests by placing them with a married couple listed only as Mr. and Mrs. O.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday with the Superior Court of the State of California, alleges ChildNet knew the couple had a prior history “of physically and emotionally abusing children as well as severely neglecting children who had been placed in their care.”
The plaintiffs are also suing Riverside County and 50 other individuals related to ChildNet, whose identities were unknown to the Turpin siblings. Attorney Elan Zekster of the Oakwood Legal Group, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the sisters, stated they would amend the suit once they ascertained the individuals’ identities.
The lawsuit began by referencing the “immense publicity” surrounding the Turpin children’s abuse and torture at the hands of their biological parents, David and Louise Turpin, who have since been convicted for their crimes.
“Plaintiffs and their siblings had been imprisoned in their home and allowed virtually no contact with the outside world for most or all of their lives,” the complaint stated. “Plaintiffs were in an extremely fragile state, both physically and emotionally, and therefore needed to be placed in a home where they could recover from their trauma and learn how to integrate into society.”
The lawsuit alleges that ChildNet failed to do any of that when they placed six of the 13 Turpin children with Mr. and Mrs. O. and ignored complaints that the pair were abusing the Turpins over a three-year period.
“Defendants were aware of credible reports of abuse and neglect committed by Mr. and Mrs. O and their adult daughter,” the filing states. “However, defendants did not act on that information.”
Instead, the Turpin siblings claim ChildNet put “financial motive ahead of its responsibility to children” when placing a large number of children in their care, thereby strengthening its relationship with Riverside County.
The Turpin siblings involved in the lawsuit list numerous allegations against the foster parents. They include Jane Doe 5’s accusations that Mr. O sexually abused her and her siblings, which involved acts of fondling, kissing and sexually suggestive gestures.
The couple — along with their adult daughter — also allegedly pulled the children’s hair and hit them with belts. The Turpin sisters accused the family of forcing them to sit outside for hours at a time as a form of punishment and made them sit in a circle to “detail the horrors” of their experiences in their former home. They also allegedly threatened to return the children to their biological parents.
The Turpins also accused the foster family, in part, of “forcing them to eat until they began to vomit. After they began to vomit, they forced them to eat their own vomit."
Mr. and Mrs. O also “went as far to suggest how the plaintiffs should commit suicide,” according to the lawsuit.
The alleged abuse stretched on for three years, despite at least one of the plaintiffs reporting the abuse to the defendants’ social workers.
“Eventually, in March 2021, an investigation by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department led to the arrest of Mr. and Mrs. O and their daughter for lewd acts with a child, inflicting injury on a child, willful cruelty and false imprisonment, and plaintiffs were removed from the home,” the filing states.
The Turpin sisters are seeking an unspecified amount in compensatory damages for physical and psychological injury and emotional distress. They’re also demanding a jury trial, claiming the defendants violated the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act and breached their mandatory duties.
Tuesday’s lawsuit comes at the heels of a 600-page report by an independent law firm hired by The Riverside County Executive Office. The eight-month review found alleged systematic failure within the county’s social services system.
Oxygen.com reached out to ChildNet, Riverside County, and the plaintiffs’ attorney but did not receive an immediate response.
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