Court declines to return 10 children to 'off the grid' family as - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Court declines to return 10 children to 'off the grid' family as investigation continues

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After eight hours at the courthouse Monday May 11, 2015, the Nauglers left visibly upset and didn't immediately comment. After eight hours at the courthouse Monday May 11, 2015, the Nauglers left visibly upset and didn't immediately comment.

HARDINSBURG, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky family who lives "off the grid" says the state has placed their 10 children in four homes across four counties, and they're fighting to get the children back.

Alex Brow, 19, says it was difficult to see his father Joseph Naugler in court. He was taken from his father's home at four-years-old and says he was abused by his father.

"Nervous," Brow said, describing his feelings in court. "I tried not to look at him too much. When I did look at him, I just kind of shut down, everything went cold."

Brow was a key witness in the custody case for Joseph and Nicole Naugler whose 10 children were taken away by Child Protective Services last week. Brow says he is Naugler's oldest son, but with a different mother.

"My worry is that they will not get taken out of that situation and they will get put back in an unlivable home for any age of children. They have a baby. They have five, six-year-old living in a bunker pretty much," Brow said.

"We are both heartbroken with the way Alex's upbringing away from us and his strained relationship with his mother has affected him," Joseph Naugler said in a phone interview.

Naugler read a statement over the phone and took limited questions. He would not answer any specifics about the abuse claims.

The family of 12 lives in Breckenridge County in a cabin they describe as "off the grid". Nicole Naugler says it's 280 square feet with a metal roof and tarps.

On her Facebook page, Naugler released state documents that say the family is living with one makeshift shed and two makeshift tents. The documents say the children are not living in appropriate conditions. 

They have no running water, but say they have a compostable toilet.

A few people who do not know the Nauglers showed up to support them.

"If they have been living the peaceful life, it's not the lifestyle I lead and yet it's the lifestyle that I think - from what I can tell - they should have the choice to raise their children that way," said Alan Claypool, a Breckinridge County resident.

"I'm just here for the rights of people," Grayson County resident Charlotte Nichols said.

Breckinridge County Sheriff Todd Pate says officers came to the property to serve a court order and to interview the children with their parents, but after the story went viral, he says things have been getting out of hand.

"There have been some threats against the department through emails - many nasty phone calls," Pate said. "People that are hearing one side of the story."

Pate says he can't elaborate about the case because it involves juveniles.

"We have allowed CHFS (Cabinet for Health and Family Services) to inspect our property and interview our children multiple times," Joseph Naugler said. "After every visit, they have confirmed - and again today - that our children are happy, healthy and well cared for."

Nicole was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after the children were taken away. Joseph was arrested for menacing after police say he was trying to get water from a well and the homeowner refused.  Police say he then told his son to get the gun and threatened the homeowner. Those charges are misdemeanors.

"I have one incident where I went to their residence," Pate said. "They are uncooperative anytime you deal with them, no matter what it is."

After eight hours at the courthouse, the Nauglers left visibly upset and didn't immediately comment.

"Everything has been focused on today," the Nauglers' attorney Rich Hardin said. "So the major concern was getting the children back today."

A custody court hearing next Monday is expected to discuss once again if the children can return home.

The Nauglers are expected at the Breckinridge County Courthouse on Tuesday morning to be arraigned on their criminal charges.

More: 'Off-the-grid' family in Breckinridge Co., Ky. lobbies for the return of their children

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