Former public guardian of adult Turpin siblings says she will cooperate with county investigation

Vanessa Espinoza said she will cooperate with the independent investigation.

November 29, 2021, 7:11 AM

A former deputy public guardian in California, at the center of controversy over care and services provided to adults who suffered years of abuse, said she would cooperate with an investigation into the treatment of all 13 Turpin children, after they were rescued from their parents four years ago and placed into the care of the social services systems in Riverside County.

"I have no issue submitting any and all necessary proof to the law firm or departments charged with this investigation," Vanessa Espinoza, the deputy public guardian who had been assigned to work with the seven adult Turpin children, wrote in a statement on her Facebook page on Saturday.

Espinoza did not reply to follow-up messages from ABC News. Over the last four weeks, Espinoza has not responded to telephone, text and email messages seeking her comment; and earlier this month, she drove away from an ABC News reporter who tried to meet up with her at her real estate office.

After repeated questions were posed to Riverside County concerning the care provided to the Turpin survivors, a Riverside County spokeswoman told ABC News on Nov. 9 that Espinoza had ceased working for the county in August 2021. The spokeswoman refused to provide further information.

Vanessa Espinoza, the deputy public guardian assigned to the seven adult Turpins' cases, posted a selfie when she first started working for the county.
ABC News

Espinoza's Facebook statement came eight days after the broadcast of ABC's 20/20 Diane Sawyer special event, "Escape From A House Of Horror." The program looked at allegations that some of the Turpin children -- both the adults and the minors -- have continued to face dangers and hardships since they were rescued and placed in the care of Riverside County. The county became responsible for their care after one of the children escaped in January 2018, leading to the arrest of the parents, David and Louise Turpin, who are now serving life sentences in prison.

In the statement posted on the Facebook page for the real estate business she operates with her fiancé, Espinoza wrote that she could not discuss many details of the case. She noted that she is aware of the gravity of the situation with the Turpin children and asked for patience.

"While I understand the seriousness of these allegations, I would appreciate the public's recognition that the investigation has to be completed," Espinoza said, adding that she quit her post with Riverside County voluntarily and thus had not been fired.

As a deputy public guardian, Espinoza acted as conservator for the seven adult Turpin children -- one of the people responsible for ensuring they had access to secure housing, health care, food support, education and other benefits to which they were entitled.

Sisters Jennifer and Jordan Turpin are seen here during an exclusive interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer for "20/20" airing Nov. 19, 2021.
ABC News

Riverside County officials and some of the Turpin children have said that they still do not have meaningful access to many of those resources and services, including safe housing, transportation and health care.

"They have been victimized again by the system," Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin told ABC News. "That is unimaginable to me -- that we could have the very worst case of child abuse that I've ever seen ... and then that we would then not be able to get it together to give them basic needs."

In response to repeated questions from ABC News, Riverside County Executive Officer Jeff Van Wagenen acknowledged that "there have been instances in which those we seek to protect have been harmed." He said the county has hired a law firm to "conduct an independent and comprehensive investigation" into what happened in the cases of the Turpin siblings.

Officials said the results of the probe will be released publicly when the investigation is expected to conclude at the end of March.

ABC News' Josh Margolin contributed to this report.

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