Riverside: A California couple who held their 13 malnourished children captive in a suburban home was charged with multiple counts of torture and child abuse as prosecutors said the youngsters had been shackled even to go to the bathroom.
David Allen Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise Anna Turpin, 49 were hit with 12 counts of torture, 12 of false imprisonment, six of child abuse and six of abuse of a dependent adult at a court hearing in the city of Riverside.
David Turpin was also charged with committing a lewd act against a child by force or fear or duress, District Attorney Mike Hestrin told a press conference, adding that bail had been set at USD 13 million for each of the defendants.
"If convicted of all charges, they face 94 up to life in prison," Hestrin told reporters in Riverside.
The Turpins were arrested last Sunday after sheriff's deputies in Perris, a town southeast of Los Angeles, found several children shackled with chains and padlocks in their filthy, foul-smelling home.
The raid on the house came after authorities received an emergency assistance call from their 17-year-old sister who had managed to escape.
She was so emaciated that officers first thought she was a young child.
Officers also initially assumed all the other siblings to be children but were shocked to discover seven ranging in age from 18 to 29.
All 13 are being treated for malnutrition and undergoing other diagnostic tests.
Hestrin said that all the children had been subjected to "prolonged abuse" and had not been allowed to shower more than once a year and never been allowed to see a dentist or doctor.
"Often, they were not released from their chains to go to the bathroom," he told the press conference.
While the children's ordeal began when the family was living in the Fort Worth region of Texas, it "intensified over time and worsened" when they moved to California.
"They were fed very little, on a schedule," Hestrin added.