The Board of Supervisors Tuesday formed a committee that will be tasked with ferreting out where Riverside County inter-agency systems can be improved to better protect vulnerable children and adults, while a former judge informed the board that an investigation into the issues that inspired the committee, involving 13 siblings, is progressing.

Board Chair Karen Spiegel sought formation of the Ad-Hoc Committee to Assess Opportunities for Inter-Departmental Systems Improvement, alongside Supervisor Kevin Jeffries. It was unanimously approved.

“I’m concerned about all of the children in county care,” Spiegel said. “We have to care about all of them. We need a full independent evaluation of county systems and the way we provide care and deliver services.”

Spiegel made repeated references to the 13 “Turpin children,” whose parents were convicted nearly three years ago of inflicting severe abuse and neglect on the youths in their Muir Woods Road residence in Perris and other locations.

David Allen Turpin, 59, and his wife, Louise Ann Turpin, 52, were each sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison in 2019.

The defendants operated what prosecutors and investigators described as a “house of horrors,” literally keeping some of the children caged or chained most times of the day, forcing them to subsist on peanut butter sandwiches and burritos, making them sleep up to 20 hours daily, and allowing them to shower only once a year.

The parents also engaged in repeated physical abuse, resulting in injuries, and treated the children as though they were in a military barracks, forcing them to march in and out of the Perris home.

The conditions were uncovered in January 2018 when one of the Turpin girls, then-17-year-old Jordan Turpin, escaped through a window and called 911.

The victims, whose ages then ranged from 2 to 29 years old, were placed in protective custody, under the supervision of either county Child Protective Services or the Office of the Public Guardian.

They were sent to foster homes and other facilities, but life did not improve much for some of the victims, as revealed in a national ABC News broadcast last month viewed by Spiegel.

The documentary featured Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin, whose staff have remained in contact with the Turpin children, and who told anchor Diane Sawyer multiple victims were “living in squalor.”

“They’re living in crime-ridden neighborhoods. There’s money for their education. They can’t access it,” he said. “This is unimaginable to me, that we could have the very worst case of child abuse I’ve ever seen, and then we would then not be able to get it together to give them basic needs.”

According to the broadcast, because of the high-profile nature of the abuse-torture case, there was an outpouring of public goodwill, culminating in an estimated $600,000 in donations raised for the Turpin children.

The disposition of the those funds, placed in trust, remains uncertain because of the sweeping protective orders imposed by the judge handling the victims’ conservatorship.

Jordan Turpin and her 33-year-old sister Jennifer Turpin, as well as their 29-year-old brother Joshua Turpin, told interviewers they were finding it virtually impossible to access the money for their needs. Joshua Turpin said he wanted to purchase a bike for basic transportation and was denied access by the Office of the Public Guardian.

Jordan Turpin said when she was taken out of extended foster care and designated an independent adult, she had no immediate shelter or ability to purchase food, without life skills training from years of being subjected to lockdown by her parents.

Anticipating the allegations and complications, the board in October retained the Los Angeles-based Larson Law Group, headed by former U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson, who has handled multiple major criminal and civil cases in Riverside.

Larson and his team were appointed to investigate the Turpin children’s treatment, as well as scrutinize the county’s entire dependent care system.

“We will provide an overview of the placement and care provided children and dependent adults in the county’s care, including the 13 Turpin children,” Larson told the board Tuesday. “We’re fully committed to conducting a thorough and transparent investigation of these matters. My team will pursue all critical lines of inquiry. We’re working hard to collect data.”

Larson said the principal focus at the moment is the status of the six Turpin children who are still minors. He said operations within the Department of Public Social Services and the Office of the Public Guardian are being closely examined.

“We’re assessing and analyzing quality of care by the county, involving all children and dependent adults,” the former judge said. “The policies and procedures enacted over the last two years — we’re gauging their effectiveness. We will provide a full and comprehensive report of our findings by March 31. We will bring forward specific recommended policy and procedural changes.”

The cost of the Larson contract was not immediately available.

The Ad-Hoc Committee’s meeting schedule also wasn’t established.

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