California lawmakers raise questions about 'torture house' and home schooling

David Louise Turpin_FT_Worth_TX_Home_CBS11

"One of the reasons for the punishments were if the children were found to wash their hands above the wrist area, they were accused of playing in the water, and they would be chained up", Hestrin said, noting the siblings were allowed to shower no a few times a year.

Some of the children were restrained with chains and padlocks.

The couple was arrested on Sunday, and the conditions in their home in Perris, California, discovered after their emaciated 17-year-old daughter climbed out of a window of the family home and called police.

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said that David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were charged with 12 counts of torture, CNN reported.

The Turpins are now being held on $9 million bail in Riverside, California.

Psychologist Rebecca Bailey says it's important for the family to remain together.

The children are now being cared for in the hospital, authorities said.

As a result of the alleged mistreatment and trauma over a long period of time, they could suffer from complex post-traumatic stress disorder, said psychiatrist Dr.

Scott Roark, a spokesman for the California Department of Education, said the policy is that after a private school affidavit is filed noting six or more students, a federal code is generated for that school and the local district is notified. "I want to reach out to the kids, I want them to know that for years we begged to Skype them, we begged to see them..."

The tranquil suburban street where the Turpin home sits was clogged with news crews hoping to offer answers, as neighbours grappled with how the apparent imprisonment of siblings - aged two to 29 - could happen amid such normalcy.

"Anne Frank lived in an insane world, but her family life was remarkably normal", Pennebaker said. Another neighbor, Julio Reyes, said that past year he saw teenagers mowing the family's yard and helping put up Christmas decorations. Former neighbors say they knew something was odd about them.

When authorities went to the house, the mother appeared "perplexed" on why they were there, according to Fellows. "It's just an appearance".

Authorities say the Turpins ended up in Perris, California, near Los Angeles. Known as the Inland Empire, the region has rebounded in recent years. They've been charged with dozens of felonies and are due back in court in February.

Huber and other experts stressed they can't diagnose Louise and David Turpin because they haven't examined them, but can offer behavioral analyses. Similarly, a court ruled 10 years ago that California home-schoolers must have a teaching credential; that ruling was quickly reversed after an outcry from home-schooling supporters.

Media converged on the couple's home Monday after news of the children's rescue came to light. The girl and her siblings had plotted the escape for two years, Hestrin said.

His mum Betty, 81, said: "They were just like any ordinary family".

"We remember them as a very nice couple", he said.

Some fundamentalist religious groups such as Branch Davidians focus on complete dominion and control over family members by a patriarch, said Cal State San Bernardino Professor Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Among the sentiments being repeated by neighbors is that they are surprised, and perhaps a little embarrassed, that they did not realize what was going on in that house.

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