California Parents Arrested After Children Found Shackled to Bed
Two parents were recently arrested in Southern California after one of their daughters called 911 to report abuse in the home. Officers with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department responded to the home and made a troubling discovery: there were 12 other children in the home, including “several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings.” The authorities disclosed that the 13 kids ranged in ages from two years old to 29 years old. The child who sought help was 17 years old, but she was emaciated and appeared to be around 10 years old. Deputies who responded to the scene said that “the conditions were horrific,” as the children appeared malnourished and the home was very dirty. As a result of findings by law enforcement, the children’s biological parents, 57-year-old David Allen Turpin and 49-year-old Louise Anna Turpin, were each arrested and charged with nine counts of torture and 10 counts of child endangerment. Bail was set at $9 million.
Setting aside the criminal aspects of this case, it is a reminder of why the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”), is required to investigate every allegation of child abuse or neglect that is reported to the authorities. Sometimes, children are sadly subjected to horrible living conditions or not provided with adequate food. In other cases, good parents are accused of child abuse or neglect where there is actually no cause for concern. Regardless of whether there is a legitimate basis for a call to child protective services, DCP&P must investigate to determine if there is, in fact, a situation of child abuse or neglect.
New Jersey’s child welfare law has a very broad definition of child abuse and neglect. Specifically, N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(c) sets forth that an “abused or neglected child” means a child less than 18 years of age whose parent or guardian, as herein defined, (1) inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon such child physical injury by other than accidental means which causes or creates a substantial risk of death, or serious or protracted disfigurement, or protracted impairment of physical or emotional health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ; (2) creates or allows to be created a substantial or ongoing risk of physical injury to such child by other than accidental means which would be likely to cause death or serious or protracted disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ; (3) commits or allows to be committed an act of sexual abuse against the child; (4) or a child whose physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as the result of the failure of his parent or guardian, as herein defined, to exercise a minimum degree of care (a) in supplying the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, medical or surgical care though financially able to do so or though offered financial or other reasonable means to do so, or (b) in providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship, by unreasonably inflicting or allowing to be inflicted harm, or substantial risk thereof, including the infliction of excessive corporal punishment; or by any other acts of a similarly serious nature requiring the aid of the court; (5) or a child who has been willfully abandoned by his parent or guardian, as herein defined; (6) or a child upon whom excessive physical restraint has been used under circumstances which do not indicate that the child’s behavior is harmful to himself, others, or property; (7) or a child who is in an institution and (a) has been placed there inappropriately for a continued period of time with the knowledge that the placement has resulted or may continue to result in harm to the child’s mental or physical well-being or (b) who has been willfully isolated from ordinary social contact under circumstances which indicate emotional or social deprivation.
Due the broad definition of child abuse and neglect in New Jersey, there are many situations in which parents and guardians, or other caretakers such as teachers or daycare employees, are accused of child abuse and neglect. If you were accused of child abuse or neglect in New Jersey and DCP&P is conducting an investigation, having an experienced child protective services defense lawyer from the Tormey Law Firm on your side can help with managing the stressful situation. Or, if the investigation is already concluded and DCP&P has filed a complaint for custody or care and supervision in Family Court and you are scheduled to have a fact-finding trial, we can defend your good name in court. The bottom line is that if child protective services is involved in your family’s life in New Jersey for any reason, you should contact the Tormey Law Firm. Our New Jersey DCP&P defense lawyers are always ready to help.