After realizing he attended grade school with the oldest of the 13 Turpin siblings allegedly tortured by their own parents, Taha Muntajibuddin wrote an emotional Facebook post — which he later confirmed with The Associated Press — that described the girl as frail, having poor hygiene and being a target for torment by her classmates.
The girl, now a 29-year-old woman, was rescued along with her other siblings from their home in Perris, California, on Jan. 14. The parents, David and Louise Turpin, were arrested and face multiple charges, including torture, to which they have pleaded not guilty.
Muntajibuddin, now a pediatrics resident doctor in Houston, said he attended kindergarten through third grade with the oldest Turpin child in Fort Worth, Texas. He described her as “a frail girl, [who] had pin-straight hair with bangs and often wore the same purple outfit.” Muntajibuddin expressed an “overwhelming sense of guilt and shame” over the way he and his classmates treated her.
Muntajibuddin reflected: “It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story."
Reactions to his post, which we are not displaying because it identifies the victim, have varied; some readers have praised Muntajibuddin for his speaking about and condemning his youthful actions, while others were angry that he took part in bullying the girl as a child.
Anthony Kirchner, a spokesman for the Crowley Independent School District, confirmed that the girl and Muntajibuddin attended the school at the same time. However, Kirchner was unable to determine when she enrolled or departed, or whether any of her siblings attended the school. Elementary schools are required to hold onto such records for only five years.
Muntajibuddin did have positive things to say about the girl, writing that she, "despite being vehemently vilified by her peers, was still one of the most pleasant people I have had the opportunity to meet. She had this whimsical optimism to her that couldn’t be dampened, couldn’t be doused no matter what anybody threw at her.”
He added: “The resounding lesson here is a simple one, something that we’re taught from the very beginning: Be nice.”