ATLANTA — Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks made a deal with a company that is pitching a television movie about her life — annoying officials who spent thousands of dollars searching for her.
ReganMedia has acquired all media rights to the “life stories” of Wilbanks and her fiance, John Mason, the New York multimedia company said Thursday.
The company did not say whether any money had changed hands.
“I am looking forward to developing the scripted project with Wilbanks and Mason,” company President Judith Regan said in a statement. “Theirs is an unexpected and compelling story of love and forgiveness that has certainly taught me a thing or two.”
The 32-year-old bride-to-be disappeared from her Duluth home on April 26, four days before her high-profile wedding with 600 guests and 28 attendants. After taking a bus to Albuquerque, N.M., she claimed she was abducted and sexually assaulted, but later recanted, saying she fled because of unspecified personal issues.
Wilbanks pleaded no contest earlier this month to making a false statement and was sentenced to two years of probation and 120 hours of community service. She also was ordered to continue mental health treatment and pay the sheriff’s office $2,550.
Duluth spent nearly $43,000 to search for her. Wilbanks has repaid $13,249.
News of her deal infuriated local officials.
“I guess that says more about this whole case than anything else that has happened. I’m really sort of disgusted by the whole thing,” said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter.
He lamented that anyone would pay “for what is just a silly story,” but said Wilbanks had the legal right to make the deal. “I didn’t want this to happen but there was no way I could prevent it,” he said.
Lydia Sartain, Wilbanks’ attorney, did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday.
Mason’s mother, Vicki Mason, said Thursday: “I haven’t had any comment about Jennifer Wilbanks from day one, and I still don’t.”
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