Authorities in Kentucky will retain custody of ten children belonging to ‘off grid’ parents Joe and Nicole Naugler while an investigation into the family’s “back to basics” lifestyle continues.
Although the result of yesterday’s court hearing was not made public, and the parents refused to conduct media interviews, a posting on the family’s Facebook page suggests that the children will not be returned until the parents have proven their competency to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).
The case hit the headlines after the children were seized by police and CHFS last week. The family insists that the children are living an idyllic traditional lifestyle on a rural 27 acre property in Breckinridge County, although authorities and neighbors assert that the living and sanitary conditions are dangerous.
“We have allowed CHFS to inspect our property and interview our children multiple times. After every visit they have confirmed, and confirmed again today that our children are happy, healthy and well cared for and that our property is sufficient for their needs. Despite that, the judge decided as a result of the deliberations in today’s hearing that our children will remain in CHFS care while they continue their investigation,” states the Nauglers’ Facebook post.
“Although we are sad our children will not be returned to us today, we have nothing to hide. We have cooperated with all requests made to us by CHFS and will continue to do so. We are confident that throughout this process Nicole and I will be shown to be the good parents that we are and that our family will be reunited. We thank everyone for all you have done for us and ask for continued prayers for our children. We want all our children to know that we love them and we are constantly with them in our hearts.”
The family also addressed allegations made by their estranged son, 19-year-old Alex Brow, who claims that he left because he was subjected to violent and sexual abuse at the hands of Joe Naugler. The post asserted that the claims stem from Brow’s “upbringing away from us and his strained relationship with his mother.”
Both Joe and Nicole Naugler will appear again in court today on misdemeanor criminal charges. Sheriff Todd Pate accused them of engaging in violent threats and being resistant to police every time authorities attempt to inspect the property.
The Nauglers assert that they are being targeted for their “free range” lifestyle and insistence on homeschooling their children. Critics point to the property’s lack of running water, wired electricity and toilets as evidence of neglect, although the parents have made it clear that they are planning to build a cabin in the near future which will have proper sanitation.