In Oxygen’s documentary special “The Turpin 13: Family Secrets Exposed,” the sister of accused child abuser Louise Turpin claimed they were “trained to keep secrets” from a very young age. The two-hour special investigated what happened before Louise and her husband David Turpin made headlines for allegedly shackling and starving their 13 children inside their Perris, California, home.
In January, Louise, 49, and David, 56, pleaded not guilty to more than 40 charges, including child abuse, abuse of a dependent adult, torture and false imprisonment. In addition, David pleaded not guilty to one count of lewd conduct with a minor. They are each currently being held behind bars on a $12 million bond, but their lawyer reminded reporters that "the case will be tried in court. It will not be tried in the media.”
Before Louise became the center of a national media storm, Teresa Robinette said her sister was a victim of sexual abuse and was forced to keep quiet about it. According to Robinette, she and her two sisters were molested multiple times by an older male relative, and no one in the family protected them.
“The family told us girls that the best thing to do would be to be quiet because we didn’t want to ruin the family name,” Robinette told host Soledad O’Brien. She alleged that her relative would pay the Robinette girls to stay silent about the abuse.
The Robinette sisters.
“He would come to the car after every time and hand my mom money,” said Robinette. “He would slip money into my hand while he was doing whatever he was doing, and he thought that that made it OK.”
Robinette claimed that her mother, who was also allegedly molested by the same man, insisted they visit the relative.
“We begged our mom not to take us up there Sundays, and she would take us anyway,” explained Robinette. “She would tell us she had to feed us, she would tell us she had to clothe us, that she didn’t know what she was going to do.”
According to Robinette, the same man allegedly sexually abused Louise when she was just 14 years old.
When asked if the abuse could have influenced the way Louise treated her own children decades later, Robinette was hesitant to say the two were connected.
“That’s hard. I don’t know because we went through that, [and] I didn’t turn out that way. My kids are very well taken care of and loved. My other siblings didn’t turn out that way. Their kids are very well taken care of and loved,” she said.
Even though she said the man “destroyed” Louise’s self-worth, Robinette claimed her sister must have known that the abuse and torture, which she is alleged to have inflicted on her children, were wrong.
“Is Louise a victim in this? I don’t know, I mean, I’m really angry with Louise right now, so it’s hard for me to say that,” Robinette explained to O’Brien. “All I can say is, Louise knew right from wrong. [...] Louise knew what she was doing was wrong, or she wouldn’t have hid it."
To learn more about the Turpin case, watch “The Turpin 13: Family Secrets Exposed” on Oxygen.