Joe Naugler’s Oldest Son Alleges Physical, Sexual Abuse; Children Not Returned

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Joe and Nicole Naugler, the off-grid homeschooling family in Kentucky whose 10 children were taken away last week due to allegations of unsafe living conditions and truancy, attended a custody hearing today before a Breckinridge County judge. Kentucky Child Protective Services had placed the 10 children in foster care after the local authorities seized them. The seizure happened after local sheriff Todd Pate showed up at the Nauglers’ homesteading property to serve Joe with a summons for allegedly threatening his neighbor with a firearm. According to an emergency custody affidavit from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the family lives on property with only one makeshift shed and two makeshift tents.

As of 5:45 pm Pacific, the Nauglers have remained silent on their Facebook page as to the results of the hearing. However, local news agencies and a family representative report that the Naugler children will not be returned to their parents this week.

The most dramatic turn of events is that 19-year-old Alex Brow, Joe Naugler’s oldest son who lives out of state, showed up at the courtroom with Sheriff Pate and made a public statement. When Brow was 4 years old, he too was removed from his father’s care. Brow said he fears for the well-being of siblings because he personally experienced significant abuse from his father. According to WLKY, Brow said, “I am very worried about them and I hope that everything that can be done, that was done here, can help them move on and have a better life.” Brow alleged not only physical abuse, but also sexual abuse: “I got all the beatings. I got most of the mental abuse. There was a lot of sexual abuse towards me. We had a very dysfunctional relationship.”

HSLDA, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, is allegedly assisting the Naugler family. HSLDA attorney TJ Schmidt spoke in defense of the family for a WorldNetDaily article and Michael Farris, Jr., HSLDA’s social media director and son of HSLDA founder Michael Farris, also expressed support.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 12, Joe and Nicole Naugler will return to court to face criminal charges.

Additional reading:

UPDATE, 05/11/2015, 6:12 pm Pacific: Joe Naugler issued a statement via their Facebook page claiming that CHFS “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.” Joe also said he was “heartbroken” over his oldest son’s testimony. An image of the statement is saved here or you can read the full text below:

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. Alex, my 19-year-old estranged son, testified in today’s hearing. We are both heartbroken with the way Alex’s upbringing away from us and his strained relationship with his mother have affected him. 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.

UPDATE, 05/12/2015, 1:35 pm Pacific: Joe and Nicole Naugler appeared in court again today (Tuesday) to face criminal charges. They each pleaded not guilty. Additionally, HSLDA today said in a WorldNetDaily article that they are no longer assisting the Naugler family.

26 comments

  • The use of legal terms etc. in this statement do not fit with any previous statements from the family.
    My guess, and it is a guess, is that this statement was written, at least in part, by the lawyers now representing the family.

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  • Same here. Also there is no way CPS made that determination if the judge refused to let the children go home to the parents. This is such a heartbreaking story I think I will go outside and scream at the moon!

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    And things just keep getting crazier and crazier.

    Waiting for the pro-Naugler types to come out of the woodwork with their Bibles and Conspiracy Theories, like they did on the last thread about the Nauglers.

    • Indeed. A friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) knew them for a few years when they lived in Texas in the late nineties. Let’s call this friend Anon. I realize that some people do not lend credence to anonymous sources and if you are one of those people, please just disregard this post.

      Although Anon wishes to remain anonymous, Anon thinks it’s important that some elements of their character be brought to light. I realize this will make for a strange read because of the anonymity, but it’s no less true.

      Nicole did well before Joe moved in with her. She groomed dogs for a living and had an apartment with power, etc. She was able to pay her bills and so on. When Joe moved in, their power was shut off within a few months then they were evicted. They did it again at another place, then they ended up camping at a state park in a tent for the summer (with little Alex in tow). They were eventually asked to leave by the park ranger. The ranger said that the park was for camping, not living at and they had overstayed their welcome. They were living off-the-grid there by necessity, not by choice. Living off-the-grid by choice is very different from being unable to earn enough money to support yourself and your habits.

      Why did it come to that? Joe took Nicole’s money to buy drugs after he moved in with her. He wanted to resell them for a profit but ended up using most of the drugs himself. He would then have to take more of her money to buy more drugs, and so the cycle continued. This was before Nicole had any children. In fact, Nicole thought she wouldn’t be able to have children because she had endometriosis at the time. Joe had cheated on her while he was away, which is where Alex (the estranged 19 year-old that testified against them) came from.

      Once, when Alex was around three years old, Anon went over to their apartment. Alex had bruises all over his face and chest. Anon asked what happened and Nicole told them that Joe did it, but Joe told Alex to tell everyone that he fell off the bed. Anon didn’t report it because they went there to buy marijuana from Joe. (Sad, but true.) At the time, Joe seemed truly sorry for bruising Alex and Anon thought that he wouldn’t do it again because he seemed genuinely repentant. Truth be told, Anon says that Nicole once said that she thought it was good for Joe to smoke weed. Anon suspects that’s because he was less violent when he was high.

      Despite their claims about Alex’s values as his reason for testifying against them, he was abused and it has nothing to do with off-the-grid living or homeschooling. At the time, Alex went to daycare and they were not living off-the-grid until they were forced to. The last time Anon saw them, Nicole was pregnant with their first child.

      This story does not surprise Anon, Joe is violent and can’t hold down a job while Nicole is codependent and she would likely be better off without him. In Anon’s opinion, any money donated to them will be used for themselves, not the children. Anon is also shocked that Nicole had 10 kids because she wasn’t crazy about taking custody of Alex when he moved in with her and Joe. According to Anon, ‘unschooling’ was likely just a way for them to avoid the involvement of authority figures (i.e., the school) who might glean that they weren’t providing for their children. In essence, their off-the-grid living is due to poverty and their unschooling “choice” is a way of avoiding educators who would spot neglect that results from living in extreme poverty. Anon believes that the kids are better off in the care of the state, which is a sad conclusion given that foster care is a crap-shoot at best.

      I personally have nothing against homeschooling or living off-the-grid, but those two things don’t give people an excuse to neglect their children. I myself live out in the country and plan to home school my son because I don’t feel that the schools in my area will adequately prepare him for college. But that’s just it: I want to prepare my son for whatever future he chooses, college included. Whether he goes or not is up to him. I would like to practice sustainable living (solar power, etc.), but for me that would be a lifestyle choice, not a necessity. It is far more important to me that my son have what he needs than for me to have the lifestyle I want. Children should have their basic needs (housing, warmth, food, clothing, education, etc.) met. I do not think that is the case with Joe and Nicole. I think they live that way because they have to.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        This story does not surprise Anon, Joe is violent and can’t hold down a job while Nicole is codependent and she would likely be better off without him.

        Man, this sounds a LOT like a (1) User and Abuser hitched with a (2) “OOOO! MY SOULMATE! HE’S SO (gasp) EXCITING!” reaction. (I’ve seen that pattern before, and it isn’t pretty.)

      • Wow, those were my thoughts as well in reading all about this sorry family. The poor children, innocent pawns in this mess. I want to think that at least for now, foster care will be a better place for them.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Even though (as a lot of the Gubmint Conspiracy Types pointed out at length on the original thread), foster care can be a crapshoot. Chance of being better than what they got, but not a certainty.

      • Your story adds up to everything I have read. In all my years of reading stories about neglectful parents online, none has shattered me as much as this one. I am so upset and transfixed on the welfare of the children.I feel I am almost holding my breath for Monday to come and hoping the children will remain in the care of the state. Both Joe and Nicole are mentally ill and these poor children need protection. I have been in co-dependent relationships with addicts in my past and I can tell you that often the co-dependent is more mentally ill than the abuser/addict. I went for a week long treatment center and have been working on my mental wellness and self esteem ever since. I suppose I did not know any better because I was neglected emotionally as a child. I feel sad for them all and really think if Nicole was able to untie herself from Joe she may well be able to provide a happy life for her kids. Sadly, now that these kids may never return and one on the way, how many more kids will be brought into this mess? Joe seems to be incapable of being entirely truthful and it all seems like a web of lies and smoke screens. I am amazed at the fanatical support they receive.

  • my heart goes to the children
    but honestly I do believe
    that children are better without Jo and Nicole
    and society need to help those children

    checking older blog from 2011
    looking photos , reading Nicole stories and watching short older videos on youtube those children were happy or look happier then now
    this family had in 2011 a nice big house for all children

    it looks that Nauglers just got deeper and deeper into desperation
    too bad Nicole did not kept her 12 goals for year 2012
    could be some mental illness in her?
    she looks like a crazy and abused wife,
    for sure she need some therapy
    before they reunite her with those children
    what kind of mother would have a childbirth in front of the children?
    Small children should not be exposed to trauma like this.

    I do not understand why salon for dogs and Nicole working full time
    had priority over house for children and
    Nicole staying home with children,
    Jo working full time and supporting his big family.
    if Nicole applied for welfare those children would be better off,
    no child deserve to live in such dirty, horrible conditions

    SHAME on Jo Naugler!
    what kind of man made 10 babies and
    then send his wife to support growing family?
    Shame on JO Naugler to freeload on his wife and children like that.
    Jo i not a man , real man do support their children and wife.
    Jo is a lazy parasite

    • People from that community have already chimed in and said that they are part of the Patriarchy type Christianity. These groups believe in large families and that the man is in total control of the family. The Duggars are an example of this only they made good and got rich. Some are also claiming that Nicole holds the Quivering movement. Google it find out how horrible this movement is and why Nicole might be letting Joe just run amok.

  • She doesn’t want anyone to know any of the things above. I posted a link from this page to her blog, and she deleted and blocked me. People need to know about what these people are, so they will stop donating to them. They have gotten over $70,000 so far is what my local news said.

    • Yes, I couldn’t agree with you more. The irony is that the first fundraising project was “crowdsourced funding for a dog grooming business for the Nauglers” (http://www.gofundme.com/tz4xng). Not shelter for the kids, but their business. Since their kids were taken away, a new gofundme project was launched for the express purpose of building a homestead and offsetting legal fees. Hmmmm…

      Allegations aside, if people truly wanted to ensure adequate housing for that family, a Habitat for Humanity project would be infinitely better. It’s obvious they don’t have the skill to DIY housing safely given the photos of the building they put together.

  • Kristin – your story about “Anon” cannot be correct. Alex is a son from another woman and he would not have been “in tow” much. Ft facts straight before you make up a story. Alex is not Nicole’s son. He hasn’t been around. 15 minutes of fame.

    • BLKHWX10 — get YOUR facts straight. Alex was the son of Joe and Crystal, a woman who Joe had an affair with while he was in New Hampshire, not Nicole and as was noted in my post: “Joe had cheated on her while he was away, which is where Alex (the estranged 19 year-old that testified against them) came from.” And, yes, Alex was in tow that summer before he was taken away from them. As noted in this very article, Alex was removed from his father’s care at age 4. He had been in his father’s care because his mother was a drug addict and unable to take care of him.

      They lived in a tent that summer (when Alex was about 3, as noted in my post again) before the park ranger asked them to move on. Incidentally, the point of the post was that they’ve been homeless off and on for quite some time, they are not homesteaders — perhaps you ought to get your facts straight and/or read what you’re responding to before launching an attack on someone, Sir Troll.

  • Anyone still interested in the case can check WAVE3 and the “Blessed Little Homestead” Facebook page for photos taken at the property just yesterday (5/21). This “homestead” is anything but blessed.

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  • I looked up and read the NH statutes re: terminating parental rights. It takes a LOT more than Joe not turning up for a hearing for him to have lost all legal standing regarding Alex’s upbringing.

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  • Nothing is ever as it seems, I suppose. I felt very sorry for them when I first read the story, but it does sound like there is more than meets the eye. The other thing that occurs to me now is that they’ve obviously lived off-grid for many years if they have ten children. That is plenty of time in my opinion, even with donated, free, recycled materials to have built a home with a floor and walls..(and many other things) my husband would have made that a priority…no time to be wasted to protect his family from the elements, so that whole aspect is suspicious to me.

  • i had no idea about this im glad the kids were not givin back im getting alot of updates since i am quite close with alex. my only wishes are with his siblings as they grow up. and i really hope they are happy healthy well fed and loved.

  • Wow. I normally don’t advocate for children to be taken away by CPS but it seems in this situation there’s just too much at stake. If not for the father’s extreme aggression and violence alleged by the oldest son, I’d want the state to look past the disorganized, shoddy home, firearms, and schooling method. I just hope they all can get some therapy and put their lives back together.

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