Turpin case: California couple denies torturing ‘shackled siblings’ 6 minutes ago Share this with Facebook Share this with Twitter Share Related TopicsTurpin captivity case


A grievous betrayal

James Cook, BBC News, Riverside, California

This case has sent waves of revulsion across the US and beyond, and the small courtroom was packed as the defendants appeared.

David and Louise Turpin were smartly dressed. They occasionally glanced at each other across a table weighed down by a copy of the California penal code and a sheaf of paper related to the case against them. A lawyer sat between them.

Mr Turpin, with a distinctive mop of grey hair, was chained around the waist, his stomach protruding from beneath the metal links. His wife’s mouth was turned down in a glum expression.

The couple spoke only briefly and softly to confirm that they understood and accepted procedural details relating to their next hearing.

The charges they deny are among the most serious any parent could face: amounting to a grievous betrayal of their own children, a betrayal which prosecutors allege went on for years, if not decades.

The siblings themselves are said to be doing well but at least some of them have almost certainly suffered irreparable damage, both physical and mental from their ordeal.

The children, who are aged between two and 29 , have been treated in hospital since being freed on Monday.

The two-year-old was of normal weight but the other children were severely malnourished, authorities said.

The 12-year-old weighed as much as an average seven-year-old and the 29-year-old weighed only 82lb (37kg).

Several of th