News Article Details

Accused torture mom Louise Turpin diagnosed with 'histrionic personality disorder,' lawyer says, as judge denies diversion program

The New York Daily News - 10/6/2018

Oct. 05--Louise Turpin, the California mom accused of starving, shackling and otherwise torturing all but one of her 13 kids, has been diagnosed with a mental illness, her lawyer said Friday.

"It's histrionic personality disorder with a diagnosis that was presented to the court," Turpin's defense lawyer Jeff Moore told the Daily News after a hearing in Riverside, Calif.

Moore was in court hours earlier for a readiness hearing and asked that Louise be released from jail and placed in mental health treatment under a pre-trial diversion program.

He revealed the defense diagnosis as Louise, 50, appeared in person along with her husband David Turpin, 56, her co-defendant in the child torture case.

The judge rejected the request, saying Louise Turpin poses a risk to the public, Moore said.

"It's a relatively new law allowing pretrial diversion for mental health-related cases," Moore explained to The News. "She would have had to complete the process, and then the case would have been dismissed, no plea required."

Moore said he believes his client would not pose a risk to her community.

"What was said in court was that the allegations all relate to her children. At this point, her children have been removed from the home and her care and custody," he said.

Moore said the judge had "full discretion" to deny the diversion request and that there's no option for an appeal.

"We will continue with the case as it currently stands. (The diagnosis) hasn't been excluded for all purposes," Moore said. "It could come into play later in the case."

The Turpins were arrested in January and have pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of torture, false imprisonment and abuse.

David Turpin also was charged with perjury and one count of a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 by force, fear or duress.

Louise, meanwhile, is facing an additional charge of assaulting one of the couple's daughters in 2015 using a means "likely to produce great bodily injury."

After a preliminary hearing in June, a judge dropped only one charge among dozens in the case. He found there wasn't enough evidence to show the parents abused their youngest daughter, a baby who appeared to be well-fed.

Investigators testified in June that the children claimed they were starved, chained to beds, locked in cages, choked, tossed down stairs, beaten with switches and neglected to the point they had no formal schooling and only bathed about once a year.

When authorities rescued the couple's 11-year-old daughter on Jan. 14, she was suffering from severe cachexia, a muscle wasting syndrome, and had been diagnosed with "psychosocial dwarfism," a growth disorder caused by extreme emotional deprivation, an investigator with the Riverside County District Attorney testified.

Louise showed little emotion during the preliminary hearing but appeared to cry when prosecutors played audio of the 911 call her 17-year-old daughter placed after jumping out a window of the family's house in Perris, Calif, last January.

The teen's voice sounded like that of a little girl.

"OK, I live in a family of 15 people and my parents are abusive. They abuse us, and my two little sisters right now are chained up," the girl told the dispatcher.

"Sometimes I wake up and I can't breathe because of how dirty the house is. We never take baths," she said. "I don't know if we need to go to the doctors."

The daughter revealed on the call that she didn't know what "medication" meant. She had trouble reading her address from a scrap of an envelope she swiped from the house.

"I don't go out much, so I don't know anything about the streets or anything," she apologized to the dispatcher.

Asked when she last took a bath, the teen wasn't sure.

"Uh, I don't know, almost a year ago," she said. "Sometimes I feel so dirty, I wash my face and I wash my hair ...I wash it in the sink."

The daughter said she and her siblings didn't attend regular school.

"Our mother tells people we're private schooled, but we don't really do school. I haven't finished first grade, and I'm 17," she said.

A follow-up hearing has been set for Nov. 30.

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