Turpin Children's Lawyer Says Foster Care Was 'Worse' Than House of Horrors: 'Brought Their Confidence to a New Low'

The abuse the 13 Turpin siblings endured at the so-called "House of Horrors" came to light in 2018

David-Louis Turpin/Facebook Turpin family
David-Louis Turpin/Facebook Turpin family

• Attorney Elan Zektser represents two of the Turpin siblings: Jordan, 23, and James, 22

• Marcelino, Rosa and Lennys Olguin, who were members of the foster family, all face child abuse and other charges

• David and Louise Turpin were convicted on 14 felony counts and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

A lawyer for some of the Turpin siblings says their ordeal in foster care was “worse” than what they experienced at their parents' "House of Horrors" home.

“These kids were just hit with a double whammy,” attorney Elan Zektser tells PEOPLE. “They were made to feel worthless at home by their parents and then they were hit again when they went to the foster home. They constantly told these children, ‘Your parents were right. You are worthless. You're a nobody. You're a Turpin,’ like that was some kind of grotesque thing. And it brought their confidence to an all new low.”

The abuse the 13 Turpin siblings endured came to light in early 2018 when Jordan Turpin — who was 17 at the time — escaped from the family's Perris, Calif., home and told authorities about their captivity and abuse.

Prior to their rescue, the Turpin siblings, who ranged in age from 2 to 29, had spent most of their lives indoors — hidden from the outside world — where they were regularly beaten and starved. At times, the children were chained to their beds or put in cages for breaking house rules.

Their parents, David and Louise Turpin, were later convicted on 14 felony counts including cruelty to an adult dependent, child cruelty, torture and false imprisonment and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

After their escape, the six youngest Turpin siblings were sent to live with foster parents, Marcelino and Rosa Olguin, and their adult daughter Lennys Olguin.

“Once the Turpins became old news in the media, these Olguins were allowed to tell them over and over again that they're nobodies, that they're disgusting — meanwhile touching them sexually, torturing them in a number of different ways, being physical with some of them,” Zektser alleges. “You would think that the world would have a magnifying glass on these kids after what they went through and the press that they received.”

<p>Riverside County Sheriffs Department</p> Louise and David Turpin

Riverside County Sheriffs Department

Louise and David Turpin

Related: 5 Years After Jordan Turpin Rescued Siblings from House of Horrors, a Look Back at Her PEOPLE Interview

Marcelino Olguin, 64, was arrested in January 2021 and charged with multiple counts including committing a lewd act on a child under 14 years old, committing a lewd act on a child 14 to 15 years old when the defendant is 10 or more years older than the victim, false imprisonment and inflicting injury on a child.

Rosa and their daughter Lennys were charged with willful child cruelty, false imprisonment, inflicting injury on a child and dissuading a witness.

In 2022, the siblings who lived with the Olguins filed joint complaints against Riverside County and the private foster care agency, ChildNet Youth and Family Services, claiming negligence and breach of mandatory duties.

They have pleaded not guilty. Their attorneys could not be reached for comment.

Brett Lewis, a spokesperson for ChildNet tells PEOPLE, tells PEOPLE, "We are unable to provide statements when a matter is in litigation."

Related: California House of Horrors Parents Plead Guilty to Imprisoning and Torturing Their Kids

According to the civil complaints, Marcelino Olguin sexually abused multiple female siblings “grabbing and fondling their buttocks, legs and breasts, kissing them on their mouths and making sexually suggestive comments.”

The suits also allege the three members of the foster family would subject some of the children to physical abuse that included hair pulling, hitting them with a belt and "striking their heads."

Turpin family home
Turpin family home

The siblings also allegedly endured "severe emotional abuse": The foster family allegedly made some of the children "sit in a circle and recount in detail the horrors that they had experienced while living with their biological parents."

The suits further allege the family would force the siblings to eat excessive amounts of food until they threw up.

“It comes from these kids' words that what happened to them at the Olguin house was in many ways worse than what happened to them in their own home,” says Zektser, who represents siblings Jordan, 23, and James, 22. “And those parents are doing life, so you can imagine the type of abuse that they were receiving in the Olguin home. Both Jordan and James say that the emotional abuse that they received at the Olguin house was worse than the years under their parents.”

Zektser says the siblings lean on each other for support. “They lean on some of the older ones,” he says. “They lean on some of these very kind individuals that are helping financially.  There are a lot of people trying to help, a lot of good people… Every day is a challenge, and every day is a new day. You try to get better. And sometimes you get hit, and you fall down because it's very easy for them to fall down. But they're on the trajectory of up hopefully.”

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“The truth is that the Turpin siblings are all very kind people,” he adds. “I don't understand how anyone could treat people like that, except for power-hungry individuals that need to feel good about themselves by putting others down, I guess. And that's ultimately what their parents were doing and the Olguins.”

A preliminary hearing in the criminal case against the Olguins is scheduled for March 29.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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