Judge bars Turpins from contacting children

Officials accuse parents of beating, tying kids

By MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CHERI MOSSBURG AND STEVE ALMASY, CNN
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David and Louise Turpin, California parents of 13 children accused of torture. 

RIVERSIDE, California (CNN) - The California couple accused of torturing 12 of their 13 children have been barred from directly contacting their kids and other potential witnesses in the case for the next three years, a judge ruled Wednesday.

After the hearing in state Superior Court, David Macher, attorney for David Turpin, said, "The order protects everyone involved, including my client. I don't want my client accused of trying to tamper with any witness."

Louise Turpin's lawyer, Jeff Moore, had no comment other than to say they "will fight the case."

Neither David Turpin, dressed in a suit and tie, nor Louise Turpin, who also wore street clothes, spoke. Each defendant nodded their understanding.

There is one stipulation that would allow contact -- that is, the Turpins would have to go through their attorneys.

Authorities have accused David Turpin 56, and Louise Turpin, 49 -- whose children are between 2 and 29 years old -- of beating, choking and tying most of the siblings up as punishment. Prosecutors have not alleged the 2-year-old was tortured. The parents allegedly deprived the children of water and fed them small portions of food on a strict schedule.

The 29-year-old child weighed just 82 pounds, prosecutors said and the other children are so thin they all look younger than their actual ages, authorities said.

The parents, who lived in Perris, have pleaded not guilty to 37 charges. David Turpin also pleaded not guilty to one count of lewd conduct with a minor.

They are due in court again on February 23.

The siblings -- seven adults and six children -- are in the hospital, recovering from years of alleged abuse and neglect.

The charges cover the time that the Turpins have lived in Riverside County -- 2010 to the present.

As the criminal case proceeds, the future of the children will likely be decided in another courtroom.

The process to terminate parental rights is determined in dependency court, and birth parents have the right to contest the termination, Amy Heilman, director of foster care and adoption at the Children's Bureau in Los Angeles, told CNN last week.

People from all over the world wanting to help the Turpin children have raised nearly $200,000 to support their medical expenses and education.

A fund launched by the Riverside University Health System -- where the younger siblings are being treated -- has collected more than $126,000, according to Erin Phillips, a spokeswoman with the hospital.

A fundraiser started by the Corona Chamber of Commerce has received about $65,000 in monetary donations after collecting enough clothing, hygiene items and toys to meet the immediate needs of the siblings.

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