LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man accused along with his wife of keeping 13 siblings imprisoned, chained and starving in their suburban home was charged on Friday with perjury over his claims that he was running a private school with the children as his pupils.
A judge also set a preliminary hearing date in June for David and Louise Turpin, whose arrest made international headlines in January after their emaciated teenage daughter escaped from the squalid home and called police.
The eight newly filed felony perjury counts against David Turpin, 57, accuse him of lying on an affidavit he filed with the California Department of Education, certifying that the children were getting a full-time education in a private school, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said on Twitter.
An attorney for David Turpin could not be reached for comment by Reuters following the hearing.
Louise Turpin, 49, was not named in the perjury charges, which were announced during a brief hearing in Riverside County Superior Court. Both defendants were ordered to return on June 20 for the preliminary hearing, at which a judge will determine if there is enough evidence for them to stand trial.
Police went to the Turpins’ home in Perris, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles, following the 9-1-1 call from the 17-year-old girl. They found her 12 siblings ranging in age from two to 29 inside, suffering from malnourishment, muscle wasting and other signs of severe abuse.
David and Louise Turpin were both taken into custody and charged with multiple counts of torture and false imprisonment, child abuse and cruelty to a dependant adult.
David Turpin has also been charged with one count of committing a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 by force or duress.
Both defendants face 94 years to life in prison if convicted on the more than two dozen charges against them, according to prosecutors.
At the time of their arrest the California Department of Education listed the Perris address, where the family has lived since 2014, as the location of the Sandcastle Day School, with David Turpin as principal.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien