Riverside Country’s director of victims services, Melissa, Donaldson cried as she said the Turpin siblings were left alone to figure out the complicated processes in the social services system after the children were rescued from prison-like conditions three years ago. Newsweek reports that the Turpin children were starved, shackled, and locked in rooms. An ABC investigation shows that the social services system was charged with helping the children transition to new lives but failed. Riverside County hired an independent law firm to investigate the claims.
Melissa Donaldson, Riverside County’s director of victims services said several of the children “felt betrayed by how local officials handle their cases. There were instances where there was neither a safe place for the children nor food. When the case first broke, I obviously got thousands of offers of help … dentists and doctors and people saying, I will serve these kids pro bono. Please, send them my way. I had to pass on those referrals to the Child Protective Services workers and the hospital. And none of them were utilized”.
The director cried saying that the reason she spoke out on the situation was “because we have to fix” the system”. A lawyer for the Turpins, the “foster family”, who are now serving life sentences in prison denied the allegations, but ABC says they are investigating.
“The shocking abuse in the Turpin home went unnoticed in the community of Perris, about 60 southeast of Los Angeles, until then-17-year-old Jordan Turpin escaped from the house and called police. Jordan and one of her sisters gave their first media interview for a segment on Friday’s episode of ABC’s 20/20”, Newsweek reported.
Donations and support for the children poured in from around the world after the story first broke, but the children do not have access to the money that was donated to them. Newsweek reports that “the money was placed in a trust controlled by a court-appointed public guardian”. Joshua Turpin, now 29, told ABC News that he “could not access funds to cover transportation needs and when he asked for help from the county’s deputy public guardian assigned to his case, she would just tell me; Just go Google it. I called the public guardian’s office and she refused to let me request for a bike,” he said.
Jeff Van Waganen, a Riverside County Executive Officer says his office “hired a law firm run by former federal Judge Stephen G. Larson to analyze the services provided and the quality of care they received. A report is due by the end of March”.
“The County of Riverside is committed to conducting a thorough and transparent review of the services provided to the Turpin siblings and to improve and strengthen the County’s child welfare and dependent adult systems”.