A yellow Labrador retriever named “Raider” has comforted the young victims for the past year in the heart wrenching story about torture and abuse by their parents in a California house of horrors. Raider, a K-9 comfort dog with the Corona Police Department, has been that unsung hero for two of the survivors.
On Friday, David Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise, 50, were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. The highly emotional and publicized case led to the couple’s guilty pleas for abusing and imprisoning 12 of their 13 children in their home. The neglect was so severe, it stunted the children’s growth, led to lack of muscle tone and left two of the young girls unable to bear children.
One daughter, 17, escaped the filthy home in Perris in January 2018, by jumping out of a window and using a cell phone to contact authorities about the treatment of her siblings. The call lasted for 20 minutes because the girl didn’t even know her address nor could she read or write. At the time, two of her sisters were discovered tied to their beds with chains and had not bathed in over a year.
Some of the children addressed Judge Bernard Schwartz before their parents were sentenced at the Hall of Justice in Riverside. Daughter Jennifer, 30, told the court her parents took her life away, but she was fighting to get it back. Her brother, Joshua, 27, stated he still had nightmares about he and his siblings being chained up and beaten. Both Jennifer and Joshua took turns stroking Raider during their testimony.
Three-year-old Raider has accompanied witnesses to court and has been specially trained to sit quietly. A message posted on Raider’s Facebook page explained:
“Today marked the end of a lengthy criminal proceeding. We were fortunate to work with a forward thinking team of advocates, investigators, and prosecutors who welcomed the idea of using a Facility Dog for the first time ever in Riverside County. We met the Turpin children from the start and were welcomed with open arms by them. They treated me with such love and affection every time we met. I wish them all strength and wellness and hope to visit with them again someday! ”
Raider is the first dog at the Corona Police Department provided by Canine Companions for Independence.
One of his handlers, Sgt. Adam Roulston, personally witnesses the smiles and comfort the dog provides. In 2017, California approved a law allowing trained therapy dogs to accompany witnesses while testifying in court.