Accused kidnappers to face judge for Cuba abduction - WFLA News Channel 8

Accused kidnappers to face judge for Cuba abduction

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The parents accused of kidnapping their two young children and sailing off to Cuba will face a judge.  Sharon and Joshua Hakken will each have their first appearance hearings Thursday morning at the Hillsborough County Courthouse.  They could find out if they'll be allowed out of jail on bond.

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee says a tip from the person who sold the boat to the Hakken's led them to find the couple and their sons in Cuba.

Once the boys' grandparents learned the family was on their way back the Tampa early Wednesday morning, they thanked investigators and the media helping with the case.

"Right now we're just looking forward to getting them on our arms, hugging them, being with them, and getting them home where they'll be safe again," said Bob Hauser.

Hauser plans to hold a press conference Thursday afternoon with his grandsons, Cole and Chase.

Deputies led Josh and Sharyn Hakken into the Orient Rd. Jail in handcuffs just before 4 AM Wednesday.  They're each charged with a list of felonies including kidnapping, child neglect, and interference in child custody.

Local authorities credit "exceptional cooperation" from Cuba in bringing the Hakken family back to the United States.

F.B.I. Special Agent Dave Couvertier praised the Cuban government for their help, "They've been very supportive and they were very cooperative in all our requests in trying to make sure that we got the family back safely."

NBC reported that the Hakken family was led away from their sailboat by dock authorities.  In photos taken by NBC, you can see Joshua and Sharyn Hakken, along with their two boys. 

The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations wrote that the vessel arrived under less than favorable weather conditions. And that on Sunday the Cuban authorities communicated their presence in the country.

Former Federal Prosecutor, L.T. Llafferty says Cuba has deported U.S.  citizens in the past. "Since 2006, when Raul Castro took over the presidency of the Republic of Cuba, he apparently has deported 4 U.S. citizens.

But that has not always been the case. Some famous U.S. criminals now call Cuba home, including Joanne Chesmard, who also goes by Assata Shakur. She's wanted for killing a New Jersey trooper and escaping prison. She's lived in Cuba since 1984 and is not alone.

"There's a big push to not normalize U.S. relations with Cuba, unless Cuba actually deports the 90 U.S. criminal fugitives that are living within the Republic of Cuba today," said Lafferty. He's handled many extradition cases,  and says without a Cuban agreement to return the Hakkens, it would have been a lengthy, drawn out process to get them back.

What does the future look like for the Hakken boys? Amy Abdnour, a Licensed Mental Health Provider in Tampa, says children are pretty resilient.

"The power to love a parent and that connection and that bond for most of us is really strong despite pretty crazy and absurd circumstances," Abdnour said.

She doesn't know how much of the abduction the boys saw. Seeing a parent tie up a grandmother, the way deputies say it happened, could be pretty alarming. But she says how people treat the Hakken boys know is just as important as what happened this last week.

"It's kind of like when a child falls down - do we race over there, hover and act like the World has ended, falling apart and they should be rushed to the emergency room? Or do we say 'hey, how are you doing?' Just jump back up, buddy, and let's keep on going," she said. "My experience has been so far we can pick out certain factors to help kids be more resilient or less resilient. The other thing is we don't know what's going to be more traumatic for one or for the other with how they process that information."


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