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Runaway bride hit with felony charges

By Associated Press
Published May 26, 2005

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - The bride-to-be who skipped town just days before her lavish wedding was indicted Wednesday on charges she told police a phony story about being kidnapped and sexually assaulted.

Jennifer Wilbanks, 32, was charged with making a false statement and making a false police report. She could be sentenced to as much as six years behind bars and $11,000 in fines if convicted.

She also could be ordered to reimburse authorities for the more than $50,000 cost of the search set off by her disappearance.

"At some point you just can't lie to the police," said District Attorney Danny Porter.

A warrant will be issued for Wilbanks' arrest within the next few days, and arrangements will be made for her to turn herself in, the district attorney said.

Wilbanks' family has said she checked into a medical facility after her return for treatment of "physical and mental issues."

Her attorney, Lydia Sartain, earlier said: "The citizens of the county will be ill-served by an attempted prosecution."

Wilbanks disappeared from her Duluth home on April 26, four days before her 600-guest wedding. She took a bus to Las Vegas and then Albuquerque, N.M., where she called authorities with a story about having been abducted.

But under questioning, she recanted. She has since said she fled Georgia because of unspecified personal issues. She returned home April 30, the day she was to have been married.

[Last modified May 26, 2005, 01:18:13]

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