Foster parents plead not guilty to abusing rescued children

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — Three members of a Southern California family pleaded not guilty Friday to abusing their nine foster children, including two girls from the Turpin family who were rescued from nightmarish conditions three years ago.

Marcelino Olguin, 63, of Perris, entered pleas in Riverside County Superior Court to felony charges that included committing lewd acts on a child under age 14, false imprisonment and willful child cruelty, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

Olguin allegedly fondled and kissed the two sisters while other children were physically assaulted, according to an investigator’s affidavit.

His wife, Rosa Olguin, 58, and 37-year-old daughter, Lennys Olguin, entered pleas to false imprisonment, willful child cruelty and dissuading a witness.

The three are free on bail and have another hearing in June.

Although they are only identified as “Jane Does,” court papers indicate that the Olguins were fostering two girls who were among 13 siblings rescued in 2018 from a home in Perris, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles.

They took in five Turpin children only months after the rescue, papers showed.

The abuse at the Turpin home went unnoticed until then-17-year-old Jordan Turpin escaped from the house and called police. She told a sheriff’s deputy that her sisters and brothers, who ranged in age from 2 to 29, had been starved, chained to beds and forced to live in squalor. Authorities said the children were physically abused, slept during the day, were active a few hours at night, were permitted showers only once a year and had minimal education.

Their parents, David and Louise Turpin, are serving sentences of 25 years to life in state prison.

Last year, ABC News reported that most of the siblings received poor care after entering the child welfare system.

“They have been victimized again by the system” and were “living in squalor,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in the ABC documentary.

“They’re living in crime-ridden neighborhoods. There’s money for their education. They can’t access it,” Hestrin 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.”

The county ordered an independent investigation into the allegations that was expected to conclude this year.