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Video: She uncovered husband’s double life on Facebook

  1. Transcript of: She uncovered husband’s double life on Facebook

    ROKER: And that's your latest weather. Meredith :

    VIEIRA: Al , thank you very much .

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: Millions of people love checking out their friends' and families' pictures on Facebook , but what if you went online and the photos you saw there showed your spouse was living a double life ? That's what this woman claims. We're going to talk to her exclusively in a moment. But first, NBC 's Jeff Rossen has the story. Jeff , good morning to you.

    JEFF ROSSEN reporting: Hey, Meredith , good morning to you. What usually happens during an affair? The cheating spouse lies and tries to cover it up. But this woman says her husband didn't hide it. He did the unthinkable; married another woman while still married to her, took the kids and began a new life posting all the photos on Facebook for everyone to see. It was 2005 , the ultimate destination wedding along Italy 's breathtaking Amalfi Coast . A couple in love, exchanging their vows and rings against a beautiful backdrop. Back then Lynn and John France planned to live happily ever after. Ms. LYNN FRANCE ( Saw on Facebook That her Husband was Married to Another Woman ): It was a movie star wedding. It was a fairy tale wedding. Absolutely.

    ROSSEN: And you were happy.

    Ms. FRANCE: Very happy, yes. Life was good as far as I knew.

    ROSSEN: They had two kids together, but just three years after that fairy tale wedding, Lynn got a feeling that John was cheating.

    Ms. FRANCE: He said he was going to China and he called me and said, `I'm here,' but his passport was at home.

    ROSSEN: Lynn says she actually caught him with another woman and soon got the

    shock of a lifetime: pictures of her husband marrying that other woman posted online. You see the pictures of their wedding on Facebook .

    Ms. FRANCE: Right.

    ROSSEN: Yet you still took him back.

    Ms. FRANCE: We have little children . I think you just want to believe the good in someone, that they can change. He begged, he said he'd changed.

    ROSSEN: But back in May, he left Lynn again, this time for good, taking their children with him. That's when even more photos popped up on Facebook of the new family together at home, on vacation.

    Ms. FRANCE: Somebody living my life on Facebook , viewing day-to-day life with my husband and my children and it's another woman.

    ROSSEN: Lynn and John 's two boys are now living with John and his new wife in Florida . But a custody fight is brewing.

    Ms. FRANCE: My children are in the family photos and her posts are referring to them as her boys, as her children .

    ROSSEN: For his part, John France says he'll fight Lynn for the kids. He says their marriage in Italy wasn't even legal because of a clerical error. What's your response to that?

    Ms. FRANCE: The IRS thinks we're married , the federal government thinks we're married . Family and friends , our children .

    ROSSEN: As far as you're concerned, you're married .

    Ms. FRANCE: As far as I'm concerned, we're married .

    ROSSEN: These photos could become evidence in John and Lynn 's upcoming court case . In fact, 80 percent of divorce lawyers say they've used social media Web sites in their cases, too.

    Mr. ANDREW ZASHIN (Lynn France's Attorney): Be very careful with whom you connect on these social networks because what you share with them, either inside the social network or outside it, could also be broadcast to the world .

    ROSSEN: But here the accusation is far more bizarre. Lynn says her husband not only cheated, not only married another woman while still married to her, but the proof is out there for the world to see.

    Ms. FRANCE: To the two of them , this is a big joke, and to me it's devastating because it's my children .

    ROSSEN: It is important to note John France , the husband , denies the accusation that he's a bigamist, marrying multiple women. In a statement late last night to NBC News , his lawyer told us "While it appears that John and Lynda France were both under the impression, once upon a time , that they were married , the fact of the matter is that their marriage was never legally proper and, therefore, it does not actually exist." He has now filed a lawsuit to void the marriage to Lynn , and he told us he is confident, Meredith , he will get custody of the children .

    VIEIRA: All right, Jeff Rossen , thank you very much . Lynn France is here along with her legal adviser , Andrew Zashin , who has done extensive work in family law . Good morning to you both.

    Ms. FRANCE: Good morning.

    Mr. ZASHIN: Good morning.

    VIEIRA: Lynn , this is just such a shocking story to me. You married John France in 2005 , storybook wedding, as Jeff just said. 2008 you discover that he is cheating on you. Had you suspected anything wrong with the marriage leading up to that?

    Ms. FRANCE: Not particularly, just increasing business trips. But...

    VIEIRA: Where you couldn't explain -- like he would say he was gone someplace and it just didn't ring true to you?

    Ms. FRANCE: Correct. He'd gone to China at one point in the fall of '08 and had left his passport at home. So that was...

    VIEIRA: You realized something was -- something was...

    Ms. FRANCE: Exactly.

    VIEIRA: 2008 , in the fall of 2008 ...

    Ms. FRANCE: Right.

    VIEIRA: ...you follow him to a hotel, basically, and you find him with another woman. You confront her; she says `I'm engaged to this guy.' You then put two and two together, figure out she probably has a Facebook page. Go on the Facebook page and you see pictures of her with your husband ...

    Ms. FRANCE: Right.

    VIEIRA: ...the bridal shower and eventually the wedding photos. They were married at Disney World , I believe.

    Ms. FRANCE: Correct.

    VIEIRA: What's going through your head as you see these photos, just one after another after another of this double life that he's leading?

    Ms. FRANCE: A lot of mixed feelings. But shock, hurt, disbelief, denial. This can't be happening. The whole gamut of emotions that everyone feels when they're betrayed by the one they love. But it was just -- it added salt to the wound of already he's already cheated and then one step further. It's out there for the world to see and they're -- he's basically flaunting it, so.

    VIEIRA: Almost like throwing it in your face is what...

    Ms. FRANCE: Exactly, exactly.

    VIEIRA: So you did file for divorce in January of 2009 , but he came back to you a few months later said, ` Look , I'm going to get this marriage annulled.' He begged you, as Jeff reported in his story.

    Ms. FRANCE: Mm-hmm.

    VIEIRA: You took him back against your lawyer's advice. Was it against your advice in particular?

    Mr. ZASHIN: It was against our law firm 's advice. Lynn was fortunate enough to have a legal team and I think that she would tell you that we gave her good advice, and the predictions we made, in fact, played out as we told her they would. Unfortunately, you know, emotions, as is often the case, controlled her decision-making as opposed to a little bit more objective rational approach to the problems that were very obvious to us.

    VIEIRA: Yeah. And you fast-forward to May of this year...

    Ms. FRANCE: Right.

    VIEIRA: ...and for all his claiming that he wants to be with you , he suddenly takes off with both of your little boys ...

    Ms. FRANCE: Right.

    VIEIRA: ...and goes back to Florida where he is still married to this woman, and now you are faced with -- you really -- the only way you can keep tabs on your sons is to put up her Facebook page, essentially, and see their pictures at this point.

    Ms. FRANCE: That's right . That's right . That's exactly -- the only way I've seen my babies since May of this year.

    VIEIRA: How painful is that for you because I know she's also apparently taunted you on the Facebook page.

    Ms. FRANCE: Right. It's a sick -- it's lunacy, it's just a sick -- it's a sickness to me. And the fact that the two babies are involved and put into the middle of it is -- it's just terrible beyond belief.

    VIEIRA: So what happens at this point, Andrew ? I mean, John France says that he is going to -- he's filed for custody of the kids. He said that these two were not really married , there was a technicality and they're not really legally married at this point.

    Mr. ZASHIN: Well, it's a complicated situation. The legalities are very, very technical. There's proceedings going on in two courts. The court in Ohio where we practice law has, on the one hand, dismissed her claim, but that's going to be appealed and we're proceeding in Ohio and believe that the case is property venued in Ohio . But there's also proceedings Mr. France has filed in Florida , where I'm also licensed and we're going to have to deal with those issues, too. So we're going to have fights on many levels about the kids, about the marriage, and about which state is going to control this matter.

    VIEIRA: And how will you use the postings on Facebook in terms of your own legal strategy?

    Mr. ZASHIN: Well, I don't think we should try the case on television, but -- and I 'm not sure that the strategy that we have now will play out exactly and I'm not sure that's something I'd want to broadcast on television anyway. But certainly, issues that come up in Facebook , where things that come up in Facebook can be used not only to support arguments people make, and Lynn might make them, anyone might make them or use them, but also to impeach the credibility or the testimony or maybe just be used as an admission by a party that they've done something that perhaps they shouldn't have done.

    VIEIRA: What I don't understand was how he could just up and take your kids away from you and you could lose all custody of them.

    Ms. FRANCE: Well, I don't -- I don't know if I could lose like custody , but because we're married and we don't have a custody order and he -- either parent has the right to the child. So the...

    VIEIRA: Have you considered at all going down there and trying to get these children ?

    Ms. FRANCE: Oh, yes, I've considered it. But against attorney's advice they asked me not to do that.

    Mr. ZASHIN: Self-help can be a very dangerous thing.

    Ms. FRANCE: Right.

    Mr. ZASHIN: And I think even agencies that Lynn has consulted with have told her not to go in and try and physically take the children . That's what 's so problematic.

    Ms. FRANCE: Yeah.

    Mr. ZASHIN: When there's no court order and when the temporary restraining orders were originally dismissed in the Ohio action, each parent has 100 percent right to their children . OK, and we can call it custody , but essentially if you're a parent and there's no court order preventing you from taking your child, you're allowed to take your child and that's what's happened. So is it up to Lynn now to be her own policeman and go down there and take the kids back and act as her own judge? It's usually not a good idea. But these are the sorts of things that are going to have to be fought out in court and, you know, unfortunately she's in the situation where if she wants to see the boys, the other parent, as I understand it and as Lynn has explained it, is demanding that she sign certain things or commit to certain things.

    VIEIRA: Yeah.

    Mr. ZASHIN: And that's not the right way to handle custody litigation, whether they're married or whether they're not, and we're going to have to sort that out for her.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 8/3/2010 10:52:50 AM ET 2010-08-03T14:52:50

For its estimated 500 million users, Facebook is a place to network and stay in touch with friends old and new. But for Lynn France, it’s the place she learned that the man with whom she had a storybook wedding had married another woman — and today, it’s the only place she can see the two children she had with him.

On TODAY Tuesday, the Cleveland woman told Meredith Vieira she believed John France was her “prince” when the pair wed in a lavish ceremony on Italy’s Amalfi coast in 2005. John became a stepfather to Lynn’s older son, and together they had two more boys.

By 2008, however, John began taking more frequent business trips out of town, and Lynn became suspicious  — particularly when, during a supposed trip to China, she found his passport at home, she said.

Lynn France had a storybook wedding to John France in Italy — but he claims the marriage was invalid due to a clerical error.

Her suspicions were heightened in October 2008 when she noticed John had left a website for a hotel up on the family’s computer screen. Lynn went to the hotel and found John there with another woman. When Lynn confronted the couple, the woman told Lynn she was planning to marry John. John moved out shortly thereafter.

Facebook shock
While Lynn was trying to find out what was going on between John and the other woman, a friend suggested that the woman might have a Facebook page. Lynn searched the social network, and was shocked to find pictures of the woman with her husband, pictures of her bridal shower — and pictures of her wedding to John France at Disney World in Florida.

“I had a lot of mixed feelings: shock, hurt, disbelief, denial,” Lynn told Vieira. Seeing her husband’s second life playing out on Facebook “just added salt to the wound. He’s already cheating, and one step further, it’s out there for the world to see. He’s basically flaunting it.”

But things only got stranger, she said. Just three months later John France returned to Ohio, begging Lynn to take him back, and promised to get his second marriage annulled. Against her better instincts — and her lawyer’s advice — Lynn allowed John to move back in.

But then, Lynn told Vieira, on May 21 of this year, John France took their two sons and headed back to Florida to be with his “other” wife. Lynn has not seen John or her children since — except on Facebook. There she sees the other woman posting photos of her family on outings, lovingly referring to Lynn’s children as “my boys.”

‘Terrible beyond belief’
Lynn France told Vieira it’s apparent to her that her estranged husband and his other bride are taunting her on Facebook.

“It’s lunacy, it’s sick,” she said. “It’s sickening to me, and the fact that there are two babies involved, and are put into the middle of it, is just terrible beyond belief.”

Vieira asked if Lynn was tempted to go down to Florida and attempt to take the boys back. But Andrew Zashin, Lynn’s attorney and a family law expert, warned against it.

“Is it up to Lynn now to be her own policeman, and go down there and take the kids back and act as her own judge? It’s usually not a good idea,” Zashin said. “Self-help can be a very dangerous thing.”

So instead Lynn France inhabits a painful limbo while complex legal maneuvers play out. She filed for divorce in her native Ohio, but husband John beat her to the punch, filing for divorce and for custody of the children in Florida. An Ohio court ceded the divorce case to Florida, where Lynn awaits a court date Sept. 1. Meanwhile, Zashin told Vieira he has appealed the Ohio ruling and is trying to get the divorce case moved back to Lynn’s home turf.

“We’re going to have fights on many levels about the kids, about the marriage and about which state is going to control the matter,” he said.

This photo is among the ones Lynn France found on Facebook showing John France marrying another woman.

For his part, John France claims his marriage to Lynn was never valid to begin with, and that his current mate is his true wife. He says a clerical error was made at the time of his marriage to Lynn in Italy, rendering it invalid from the start.

John France’s attorney issued a statement to NBC, saying: “While it appears both John and Lynda France were both under the impression, once upon a time, that they were married, the fact of the matter is that their marriage was never legally proper and, therefore, it does not actually exist.”

John France’s attorney also expressed dismay at Lynn’s going public with their complicated marriage and separation, and said John plans to conduct a press conference on Thursday to tell his side of the story.

Meanwhile, Lynn France finds herself relegated to combing another woman’s Facebook page to see how her children have grown.

“To the two of them, this is a big joke. And to me it’s devastating, because these are my children,” she told NBC.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

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