ATLANTA (AP) – Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks has struck a deal for a TV project about her misadventures, irritating some people in her hometown.

ReganMedia, which publishes books and produces TV shows and movies, said Thursday that it has acquired all media rights to the stories of Wilbanks and her fiance, John Mason. The New York company did not say whether any money had changed hands.

In a statement, company President Judith Regan called the tale “an unexpected and compelling story of love and forgiveness that has certainly taught me a thing or two.”

ReganBooks has published novels such as Wally Lamb’s “I Know This Much Is True” and celebrity titles such as Gen. Tommy Franks’ “American Soldier.”

The 32-year-old nurse disappeared from her Duluth home on April 26, four days before a wedding that was supposed to have 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 telling police a phony story 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 and residents.

“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. “There was no way I could prevent it,” he said.

Duluth Mayor Shirley Lasseter said she hopes Wilbanks will give any profits to charity.

“I just think it’s sinful that we are allowed to profit over wrongdoings,” she said. “I think every cent she makes needs to be given to organizations for missing children and adults so it can be used to help someone in a situation which she created falsely.”

Lydia Sartain, Wilbanks’ attorney, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Duluth resident Dave Stowers suggested Wilbanks donate money from any deal to improve the city’s parks. “Asking the city to forgive that amount of money sends a negative message to the community, in my opinion,” Stowers said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.