’60 Minutes’ Families Languish, As Channel Nine Team Faces Lebanese Prison

The nation watches as the 60 Minutes crew faces kidnapping charges alongside Australian mother Sally Faulkner for allegedly trying to retrieve Lahala, 6, and Noah, 4 from their father, Ali Elamine, who is also Faulkner’s ex-husband.

After custody talks broke down, Ms, Faulkner apparently convinced the Channel Nine news team to help her in regaining physical custody of her children. The 60 Minutes new crew, which consists of Tara Brown, David Ballment, Stephen Rice, and Ben Williamson, are now being held in a Lebanese prison, while their families try to cope with the situation and prepare for the worst.

Families Of The Channel Nine 60 Minutes News Crew Open Up In A Joint Statement

Is it too soon for a #putoutyourstopwatch social media campaign? #60minutes #TaraBrown

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The partners of the imprisoned 60 Minutes crew, Cara Williamson, Denise Rice, John McAvoy, and Laura Battistel, have now released a joint statement in which they reveal the ordeals their families have endured, since news of the incident was first released. Some say that they have yet to tell their children what has happened, unable to figure out just how to tell the younger children why their mom or dad isn’t coming home.

“It’s not an easy conversation to have with a five or seven year old who ask as they go to sleep each night when mummy or daddy is coming home,” said the partners of the 60 Minutes crew in a written statement.

The families of the Channel Nine news crew say their first response was to fly to Lebanon, so they could show their support for their loved ones, but they add that everyone close to the 60 Minutes situation has told them the best course of action is to stay away. The statement also assures the public that Channel Nine is sharing what little information they’re able to learn about their 60 Minutes news team, but that, in addition to not learning much, no one associated with Channel Nine or those concerned family members are very familiar with the Lebanese legal system.

“People forget that Tara, Stephen, Ben and Tangles were there doing a job; covering a story. As it turns out, a very important story. It’s what they do. It’s what they have been doing brilliantly for years. Obviously, this time, something went wrong.”

Tara Brown’s Husband Faces The Struggles Of Parenting Their Sons

John McAvoy, husband to Tara Brown and a news producer, says he hasn’t been able to explain the situation to their sons, Jack, 7, and Tom, 5, because he’s not sure what to say or how to answer the questions that would inevitably come from the two young boys.

“It’s hard to imagine it could be any tougher. From what we know, they are in good health, keeping their spirits up and are being well looked after by the Lebanese authorities,” McAvoy said of the situation involving the 60 Minutes crew. “You can’t imagine how comforting it is to know that. That is all that is getting us through at the moment.”

McAvoy says that, even if the adults involved are coping with the situation, it’s much harder and more confusing for the children. Making things that much more troubling is the fact that the parents, like John, don’t know how to explain it. Mr. McAvoy says there doesn’t seem to be any right way to tell their children why mommy or daddy isn’t coming home.

While Sally Faulkner is facing kidnapping charges, the 60 Minutes news crew is also facing criminal charges, which are hiding information, collusion and/or conspiracy to commit a crime, kidnapping or unlawful detention of a minor even with their approval, and physical assault. If convicted, the Channel Nine team faces up to 20 years in prison.

While Judge Rami Abdullah said he would not consider dropping any of the charges, he added that a custody agreement between Faulkner and Elamine would help reduce sentencing in the cases for all of the accused.

The 60 Minutes crew was sent to Beirut to film the kidnapping of the children. Although Channel Nine refuses to comment, a member of the 60 Minutes team says Channel Nine gave them funding for the project in the amount of $115,000.

[Image by CBS News Productions]