Classmate expresses guilt over bullying tortured sibling

David Turpin in courtImage copyright
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In addition to charges of abuse and torture father David Turpin, 57, faces one count of “lewd act on a child under 14 years of age”

A former classmate of one of the 13 children held captive in California wrote that the oldest daughter was relentlessly bullied in school.

Taha Muntajibuddin described David and Louise Turpin’s daughter in a Facebook post as “a frail girl” who wore the same purple outfit every day.

The Turpin couple, who face charges of torture and abuse, are due back in court as prosecutors seek to keep them from contacting their children.

The couple has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Muntajibuddin, who attended kindergarten through third grade with her in Fort Worth, Texas, wrote that he felt “an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame” when learning about the conditions his former classmate lived in.

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He wrote, “you can’t help but feel rotten when the classmate your peers made fun of for ‘smelling like poop’ quite literally had to sit in her own waste because she was chained to her bed”.

Mr Muntajibuddin, who realised he went to Meadowcreek Elementary School with the eldest daughter when reading the news of the Turpin case, described her clothes as looking as though they had been dragged through mud.

“It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story,” Mr Muntajibuddin wrote.

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Louise Turpin, 49, appears in court at her arraignment with husband David on 18 January 2018

He shared that that the eldest Turpin child was often called the “cootie kid” and teased relentlessly by her classmates.

“I distinctly remember my entire third grade class scoffing at her one day because our teacher had asked her to discard a scrunchy she had used to tie her hair out of a discarded tin foil wrapper from an old Hershey’s bar,” he said.

The 13 siblings were allegedly kept in squalid conditions in their home, often chained to beds and unable to use the toilet, until the couple’s 17-year-old daughter escaped and alerted the authorities.

The ‘happy family’ at centre of torture allegation

The couple are expected back in court on Wednesday, when Riverside County prosecutors will ask a judge to bar them from contacting their children.

Officials want to prevent the couple from having any contact with them, district attorney’s office spokesman John Hall told AP.

About 20 people from across the country, including nurses and psychologists, have offered to care for the seven adult children and six minors.

The Riverside University Health System Foundation, which is collecting donations for the children, has received 1,500 contributions that total in $120,000 (£84,393), according to spokeswoman Kim Trone.

Prosecutors detailed some of the horrific allegations against the parents in a news conference, including frequent beatings of their children, only allowing one shower a year, and keeping their children chained to their beds.

Media captionShackled siblings: What we know about their lives

The children, age two to 29, were found in an emaciated state by authorities in their home in Perris, according to police. Officers had at first thought all the children were minors but later realised some were frail and malnourished adults, they said.

Mr Muntajibuddin said that despite being bullied, she “was still one of the most pleasant people I have had the opportunity to meet.”

“She had this whimsical optimism to her that couldn’t be dampened, couldn’t be doused no matter what anybody threw at her,” he added.

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If found guilty of the dozens of charges against them, the couple face 94 years to life in prison.