Mason files countersuit against Runaway Bride

LAWRENCEVILLE - John Mason, the former fiance of runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks, filed an answer and countersuit in Gwinnett Superior Court on Friday.

The countersuit was filed in response to a complaint filed by Wilbanks in the same court one month prior in which she is seeking $250,000, half of the cost of a home Mason purchased in Dacula using $500,000 that came from Regan Media in New York in exchange for the infamous "Runaway Bride" story.

Wilbanks' lawsuit states that she granted Mason power of attorney in May 2005 to deal with the New York-based publisher, and Mason sold the story for the listed amount.

Wilbanks alleges that Mason abused the power of attorney privilege and defrauded her, and all this allegedly occurred while Wilbanks was in the hospital and on medication.

Wilbanks is also seeking at least an additional quarter of a million dollars for punitive damages.

Wilbanks claims that Mason bought the home in his name only and later evicted her.

The couple split up for good in May 2006.

As far as money in the countersuit, Mason is not requesting a specific dollar amount, only an amount to be proven at trial, the document states.

As the tale has been told over and over again, Wilbanks, then 32, fled the state on April 26, 2005, to escape a lavish wedding scheduled just four days later. After a massive three-day manhunt, she called Mason from New Mexico, claiming to have been abducted and sexually assaulted.

She later came clean, pleaded no contest to telling police a phony story and was sentenced to two years probation.

Mason's attorney, James C. Watkins of Norcross, told the Gwinnett Daily Post that the family did not wish to be interviewed.

Mason's countersuit states that Wilbanks' conduct and behavior "was intentional, reckless, extreme and outrageous and causing Defendant Mason severe emotional and physical injury and distress" and "as a result of (Wilbanks') disappearance, (Mason's) personal and private life were virtually destroyed."

Furthermore, Mason was scarred by Wilbanks' "bizarre behavior and is still the subject of national media attention, humiliation and embarrassment."

Mason also complains in the document that he "became the focal point of a possible criminal investigation and was the subject of intensive interrogation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

Before any lawsuits were filed, letters from Wilbanks' attorney, Michael L. Wetzel of Bogart, dated May 31 and June 5, 2006, stated that Wilbanks asked Mason for furniture she bought or received from her parents before the wedding.

She also asked for the wedding gifts from her family and friends and items that include a washer, dryer, grill, entertainment center, breakfast table and chairs, a gold sofa, a comforter set on the master bed and a ladder that belongs to her father.

Additionally, Wilbanks wanted $5,750 she contributed to a joint savings account, which was to pay for their honeymoon.

In a letter dated July 7, Watkins wrote that Mason "is agreeable to deliver the ... items to Ms. Wilbanks, at his expense, to a destination designated by her."

Court records did not show if the items have been returned as of Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.