California couple deny torturing 'shackled siblings'

Updated: Jan 19, 2018, 11:06 IST | IANS

The parents accused of holding their 13 children in shackles at a California home have pleaded not guilty

Turpins-baby

The parents accused of holding their 13 children in shackles at a California home have pleaded not guilty. David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49, are facing charges of torture, abuse and false imprisonment, BBC reported on Thursday. They were arrested after their daughter escaped from their home where police found some of her siblings chained to their beds and severely malnourished.

The couple appeared in court hours after prosecutors detailed the horrific abuse allegations against them. Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said the couple had allegedly punished their children by tying them up - first using ropes and later chaining them to their beds with padlocks. He said the alleged punishments would last weeks or months, and intensified over time.

Prosecutors said circumstantial evidence showed the children were not released from their chains to go to the toilet. The children, who are aged between two and 29 , have been treated in hospital since being freed on Monday. The teenager who escaped and alerted police to the house where her siblings were held captive had been hatching a plan to leave for two years, Hestrin said.

Hestrin detailed some of the gruesome allegations against the parents at a news conference on Thursday. The shocking claims include: The children were accustomed to frequent beatings, including strangulation. They were only allowed one shower a year. The children would stay awake all night until going to sleep at four or five in the morning and slept during the day.

They were not allowed to play with any toys but many were found inside the house in their original packaging. If the children washed their hands above the wrist they were subjected to punishments, allegedly accused of "playing with water". The Turpin parents allowed their children to eat only one meal a day but the parents would sometimes buy food, like pumpkin pies, and place it where the children could see it but not eat it. They have never seen a dentist and haven't visited a doctor in over four years. The children lack basic knowledge of life, and did not know who a police officer was.

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