News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2005


Authorities shouldn't charge runaway bride

Let's not excuse the myopic actions of Jennifer Wilbanks, the Duluth, Ga., woman who skipped town days before her wedding, disappeared and then claimed to be a kidnap victim.

Her self-centered actions caused untold heartache and then embarrassment to family, friends and loved ones. They resulted in the expenditure of thousands of taxpayers' dollars as authorities frantically searched for the missing woman. At one point, they resulted in her fiancÚ becoming a suspect in the abduction.

She deceived an entire nation who followed the search.

That said, authorities should not charge Ms. Wilbanks with the crime of filing a false police report — a crime she is undoubtedly guilty of committing.

What good would come from filing charges? Her friends and family have already suffered enough anguish and embarrassment. The taxpayers have already wasted enough money. More embarrassment and wasted money would result.

And there is no deterrent value to pursuing charges. A conviction would do nothing toward preventing other young women from doing the same in the future.

If, however, Ms. Wilbanks decides to write a book about her week in the spotlight, don't buy it. She should not benefit financially from her shamefully misguided actions.

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