For the first time in their lives, some of the 13 California siblings rescued in January from what became known as a “House of Horrors” are making decisions for themselves, representing a momentous achievement in their recovery from being allegedly imprisoned, tortured and starved for years, their lawyer says.
“That in itself is a new experience for them, understanding that they do have rights and they do have a voice,” said attorney Jack Osborn, a lawyer appointed to represent the interests of the seven eldest Turpin children.
PEOPLE was unable to reach Osborn by phone, but he told CBS News the older siblings are doing well in their recovery at a medical facility not far from the Perris home the siblings were allegedly forbidden from leaving.
At times, some of the siblings were allegedly shackled to their beds so they would not escape.
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The children of 56-year-old David Allen Turpin and his wife, Louise, 49, have also been exposed to entertainment and technology they’d been deprived of, reading Harry Potter books and using iPads.
“That’s a big deal, deciding what they’re going to read, deciding what they’re going to wear, these are all things that are decisions they make every day that are new and empowering,” Osborn said.
David and Louise Turpin face numerous criminal charges in the alleged abuse of their 13 children, who range in age from 2 to 29. The parents maintain their innocence, and will appear in court Friday afternoon for the next hearing in their case.
Corona Mayor Karen Spiegel, who works closely with the siblings’ nurses, tells PEOPLE, “They are warm and loving kids, even though they’re adults, we keep calling kids; they just have some growing up to do. They’re just behind but they’ll get through.”
“They are progressing well, and looking into the future, seeing where their lives could go and they have the support system,” Spiegel adds. “They have the whole community behind them.”
Spiegel says that supporters of the siblings don’t refer to them as the Turpins because they don’t want to associate them with their parents. Instead, they are called “The Magnificent 13.”
The parents were arrested on Jan. 14 after their malnourished 17-year-old daughter climbed through one of the windows of their Perris, California, home, and called 911 using a disconnected cell phone she had found. The California couple have since pleaded not guilty to torture, abuse, and false imprisonment charges.
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Osborn noted to CBS the staff at the Cornona Medical Center has converted part of the facility to make it more accommodating for the seven Turpin siblings. There is an outdoor area for them to exercise in and play sports, CBS reports.
Osborn added that the older children have expressed desires to go to the beach, hike the mountains and go to the movies. Once they’ve been cleared by their physicians, several intend to pursue degrees and careers.
“I just want you to understand just what special individuals they are,” Osborn said. “They all have their own aspirations and their own interests and now they may have an opportunity to address those, which is really exciting.”
The Turpin parents remain in police custody on $9 million bond. The prosecution has said the children will testify against their parents at trial.