WARNING: Graphic Images
Another house of horrors was uncovered this week, this time in Riverside, CA. Thirteen siblings were found emaciated, living in dark and stomach-churning conditions – several shackled to their beds – in a suburban tract home that to all outward appearances seemed normal .
David and Louise Turpin are being charged with dozens of counts of torture, child abuse, and abuse of dependent adults. Their children range in age from 2 y.o. to 29 y.o.
Journals by the children have been recovered documenting the torture which included starvation, beatings, chaining, repeated strangulation, and refusal to allow the children to use bathroom facilities or bathe for months on end . Many of the children have cognitive impairment and neurologic deficits as a result. The 17 y.o. girl who somehow managed to escape and call police is so stunted she looks 10 y.o. Her 29 y.o. sister weighs 82 lbs.
How is any civilized human being to react to this ? Shock and disgust are followed closely by outrage. How could this happen, we ask ourselves helplessly.
This was depravity of the highest order, beyond the comprehension of most normal people. But there was at least one gross regulatory failure.
The home in question was for the past 7 years listed by the California Dept. of Education as the Sandcastle Day School, a private K-12 campus with David Turpin as principal.
Supposedly the Accrediting Commission of Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) conducts a “comprehensive accreditation of public and private schools” in California, at least according to the US Dept. of Education website it does . One cannot help but wonder how “comprehensive” that process was, in this case.
California does not feel it necessary to “approve” or certify private schools which do not provide special education . There is no licensing required by the 3000 private schools listed with the California Dept. of Education. There are no audits conducted. California private schools are permitted simply to file an annual affidavit as to their operation. Teacher certification is, also, optional.
Of course, there were no annual fire inspections conducted here either. Had there been, this travesty would have come to light sooner.
The Turpins, it should be added, lived for many years in Texas before moving to California. The abuse of their eldest children would have begun there.
Whether they claimed to conduct a private school in Texas is not currently known . The chances are they did. Otherwise their children would have been required to attend school (or investigated as truant).
The Human Heart
To say that appearances can be deceiving is an understatement. If we are to protect our children, we cannot accept banal statements of compliance with the law at face value. The darkness of the human heart has no limits. We should by now have learned that.
“Woe to you…For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matt. 23: 27).
 Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Parents arrested after children found shackled and malnourished in California home” by Paloma Esquivel and Joel Rubin of Los Angeles Times, 1/15/18, http://www.gazettenet.com/Parents-arrested-14920013.
 CNN, “ ‘This is depraved conduct,’ DA says of couple accused of torturing kids” by Madison Park et al, 1/18/18, http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/18/us/turpin-family-investigation/index.html.
 The Washington Post, “Starved, chained and unbathed: Police describe the lives of 13 siblings held captive in their home” by Marwa Eltagouri, 1/18/18, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/01/18/13-children-were-starved-at-home-with-some-chained-to-their-beds-police-called-it-depraved/?utm_term=.13a3a36bc663.
 This is the type of horrific situation police, social workers, and child advocates confront on a regular basis. These professionals experience secondary trauma, as a result.
 US Dept. of Education, California, Private Schools, https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/nonpublic/california.html.
 The Edwardsville Intelligencer, “Lawmakers seek home school oversight after 13 found captive” by Michael Balsamo and Kathleen Ronayne of the Associated Press, 1/17/18, https://www.theintelligencer.com/news/education/article/No-rules-for-California-home-schools-where-13-12503357.php.
 The Texas Private School Accreditation Commission (TEPSAC) oversees private schools in that state. See, Texas Private School Accreditation Commission, https://www.tepsac.org/#/home.