Teresa Robinette, sister of Louise Turpin, is eager to meet the nieces and nephews she's never had the chance to know
The younger sister of the California mom accused of abusing her 13 children alleges she and Louise Turpin were sexually abused as children by a relative.
Teresa Robinette opened up about her family’s “big secret” during an appearance Monday morning on Megyn Kelly TODAY, alleging that multiple female family members were abused.
Robinette told Kelly the allegedly abusive male family member was never held accountable for his actions, and was instead protected by their older relatives. She claimed the man molested her, Louise, and other relatives.
Robinette was on the program to discuss the arrests of her 49-year-old sister and her 56-year-old brother-in-law, David Allen Turpin.
Both were detained last Monday after their 17-year-old daughter climbed through one of the windows of their home early on Sunday and called 911 using a disconnected cell phone she had found.
The teen, according to officials, had been planning the escape for two years.
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Police allege that the 13 Turpin children, ranging in ages from 2 to 29, were found malnourished, living in squalor with some “shackled” to furniture.
Robinette told Kelly she is angry with her sister for allegedly mistreating her nieces and nephews.
“David and Louise are dead to me now,” Robinette said.
She also said David and Louise allegedly felt that they missed out on some of the fun their friends without kids got to have early on in their relationships, and started acting differently after having several children.
As Louise was approaching 40, the couple stopped attending church and “said they were experimenting with different religions.”
They started going out to bars when, before, they had never even taken a sip of alcohol.
“The very weird thing to me, that I would never do, is she told me her and David met a man online from Huntsville, Alabama, and that they were on their way to meet him,” Robinette said. “She was going to sleep with him, and David was okay with it. I told her I thought it was a mistake. But I know that she met this man at a motel and slept with him in Alabama.”
A year later, Robinette said the couple returned to the hotel, spending the night in the same room on the same bed.
Robinette is hoping to get close to her 13 nieces and nephews, with whom she has not spoken in years, and who she fears may be “socially” underdeveloped.
“Our hope is that they all can lead some sort of normal or happy existence,” she told Kelly. “They’ve obviously never known happy. My main hope is that I can put my arm around them and just tell them they had family that loves them that’s not deranged. I want them to meet their cousins.”
Prosecutor Mike Hestrin also appeared on the show, and said that the siblings are “capable of speaking” and “providing significant information” to the ongoing investigation.
“We are still seeking information, especially when they lived in Fort Worth, Texas, and Murrieta,” Hestrin said. “This is by no means closed … really, we’re more towards the beginning” of the investigation.
David and Louis were charged with 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse or neglect and 12 counts of false imprisonment for crimes dating back to 2010, Hestrin said in a press release. David was also charged with one count of lewd act on a child under the age of 14 by force, fear, or duress.
Both entered not guilty pleas to all of the charges and remain in custody. If convicted, each faces up to 94 years to life in prison.
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Speaking to reporters after their court hearing Thursday, attorneys for David and Louise declined to comment beyond broad reactions about the allegations against them.
“It doesn’t get much more serious in terms of severity of the conduct being alleged and also the exposure in prison,” said Jeff Moore, Louise’s attorney.
He tells PEOPLE, “The allegations carry life in state prison. In terms of possible sentences this is about as serious as it gets.”
Echoing that, David’s attorney, David Macher, says, “It is a very serious case. Anytime you are talking about a century of imprisonment is a very serious case.”
Prosecutor Kevin Beecham says, “It is a horrible case. It is unfortunate for everyone involved. Thank goodness they [the kids] are out now.”
Anyone with information about the Turpin family is urged to call the official tipline set up by the D.A. in Riverside, California: 888-934-KIDS