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Video: He denies alleged bigamy found on Facebook

  1. Transcript of: He denies alleged bigamy found on Facebook

    MATT LAUER, co-host: Let us begin this half-hour, though, with the man who allegedly had his double life exposed on Facebook , who's now fighting back. In a moment we'll talk to him and his wife exclusively, but first NBC 's Jeff Rossen has the latest on what is an unusual case. Jeff , good morning to you.

    JEFF ROSSEN reporting: Hey, Matt. Yeah, to say the very least. Good morning. People get caught cheating on Facebook all the time. A photo leaks out and the spouse is busted. Not what happened here. John France and the other woman posted the photos themselves, then they got married and posted those pictures. Meanwhile, his other wife logged on and couldn't believe her eyes. One man, two beautiful brides.

    Unidentified Man: You may kiss your wife.

    ROSSEN: In 2005 , the wedding of John and Lynn France , the ceremony along Italy 's stunning Amalfi Coast . Then in 2008 , the wedding of John and Amanda France , this one at Disney World , complete with fireworks.

    Ms. LYNN FRANCE: Married to me with our children in one state and with her in another state.

    ROSSEN: Double life .

    Ms. L. FRANCE: Complete double life .

    ROSSEN: Lynn , the 2005 wife, had two kids with John , living in Ohio . Things seemed great. And you click on Facebook .

    Ms. L. FRANCE: Clicked on Facebook .

    ROSSEN: And there it was, proof, she says, John was cheating with another woman in Florida . In fact, the other woman, Amanda , posted photos of the relationship on Facebook for everyone to see, including Lynn , John 's wife in Ohio . What did you see?

    Ms. L. FRANCE: Their life together, from their engagement to their photos from that wedding.

    ROSSEN: Lynn says despite the second wedding, she and John reconciled last year, but this past May he left her for good and took the children with him. Today, John is living his new life with his new wife, Amanda , and they continue to post photos on Facebook , including shots of Amanda playing with Lynn 's kids, writing comments like "putting my little loves to sleep."

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

    ROSSEN: You're saying she's lying. Ms. AMANDA FRANCE ( Husband Accused of Leading a Double Life When He Was Exposed on Facebook ): Big time , yes.

    ROSSEN: Wednesday, John and his new wife agreed to sit down for an exclusive interview. You've heard what Lynn says... Mr. JOHN FRANCE ( Accused of Leading a Double Life When He Was Exposed on Facebook ): Mm-hmm.

    ROSSEN: ...that you're leading a double life ...

    Mr. FRANCE: Right.

    ROSSEN: ...you're flaunting it...

    Mr. FRANCE: Mm-hmm.

    ROSSEN: ...on Facebook . What is your response to her accusations?

    Mr. FRANCE: Completely absurd. Facebook isn't where she found out about the marriage . She knew about the marriage months prior.

    ROSSEN: John France says his marriage to Lynn wasn't even legal because of a filing error. So you're saying your marriage to Lynn is invalid.

    Mr. FRANCE: Correct.

    ROSSEN: There's no marriage .

    Mr. FRANCE: There's no marriage .

    ROSSEN: You basically lived like husband and wife and that, you had rings, you had children together.

    Mr. FRANCE: Mm-hmm.

    ROSSEN: Isn't that just a convenient excuse to pardon your cheating?

    Mr. FRANCE: No. I don't think I was cheating. It -- if you have a -- if you have a marriage and it's not right from the beginning, it's not right at the end.

    ROSSEN: Lynn also accuses John of keeping their kids from her. She hasn't seen her boys in 10 weeks.

    Mr. FRANCE: She hasn't seen her kids because that's her choice.

    ROSSEN: You're saying right now if she wants to come down and see the kids...

    Mr. FRANCE: Absolutely.

    Ms. A. FRANCE: Any day, any time.

    ROSSEN: ... she's more than welcome.

    Mr. FRANCE: Any day.

    ROSSEN: John and Amanda say they just want to move on with their lives together and want primary custody of the kids, allowing Lynn visitation. Do you have any regrets?

    Ms. A. FRANCE: No. No. I regret that we let her get away with the accusations for so long.

    ROSSEN: Now this bizarre case is headed to court in Florida . Both sides are fighting for custody . Now, late last night, we called Lynn 's lawyer. He told us the marriage is valid and they have the documents to prove it, and they call John 's actions reprehensible, saying the kids should be returned to their mother, Lynn , in Ohio . Matt :

    LAUER: All right, Jeff Rossen . Thank you very much . John and Amanda France are with us now exclusively along with their attorney, Gary Williams . Good morning to all of you. Nice to have you here.

    Mr. FRANCE: Good morning.

    Ms. A. FRANCE: Good morning.

    Mr. GARY WILLIAMS: Good morning.

    Mr. FRANCE: Thank you.

    LAUER: Let's start where Jeff left off, this marriage , the first marriage to Lynn .

    Mr. FRANCE: Mm-hmm.

    LAUER: She says that she's got documents, her lawyer says they've got documents...

    Mr. FRANCE: Mm-hmm.

    LAUER: ...that prove it is legal, it is still in effect.

    Mr. FRANCE: Mm-hmm.

    LAUER: Can you prove otherwise?

    Mr. FRANCE: Yes. I -- this goes back years ago. This is not new news. I hired Italian attorney to go and confirm if the marriage was legal. The attorney came back with affidavits stating that it is invalid and I have affidavits for that.

    LAUER: Gary , are you in possession of those? I mean, can you prove legally that the marriage to Lynn never was valid and is not valid today?

    Mr. WILLIAMS: That's our position, Matt. We filed a petition with the courts in Florida to that effect and expect that once the evidence is presented we'll find out that that's the case.

    LAUER: And there was a time , John , where you went to Lynn and said, ` Look , our marriage is not legal. We are not married .' You had that conversation face to face with her?

    Mr. FRANCE: We discussed that. Yeah, we discussed that a number of times.

    LAUER: And her reaction at that time was what?

    Mr. FRANCE: At first she believed it and then she keeps on flip-flopping, OK? But this goes back years, at least two years.

    LAUER: Did you also sit down with Lynn at some point and say, ` Look , this isn't working out. I am going to Florida . I am now involved with another woman,' that woman being Amanda ? `I have a new life, I'm no longer involved with you, and nor do I want to be involved with you any longer.'

    Mr. FRANCE: She know -- she knew about Lynn in 2007 , OK, and...

    LAUER: She knew about Amanda .

    Mr. FRANCE: I mean, Amanda .

    LAUER: OK.

    Mr. FRANCE: I'm sorry.

    Ms. A. FRANCE: We knew about each other.

    LAUER: So even you're confused by this. All right, she knew about Amanda in 2007 .

    Mr. FRANCE: Right.

    LAUER: You told her this was a serious relationship.

    Mr. FRANCE: Yes.

    LAUER: So when she says that she didn't know about any part of this other side of your life, the relationship or, in particular, the marriage ...

    Mr. FRANCE: Mm-hmm.

    LAUER: ...until she looked on Facebook , you respond how?

    Mr. FRANCE: That's very untruthful because in October 2008 she confronted both me and Amanda about the marriage . OK. She -- when we -- when we did get married on December 31st , we had the boys with us. She had a couple nannies at that time, so make her feel comfortable, we had one of the nannies, who is one of her friends, watch the kids in Florida .

    LAUER: When you say you had the boys with you at the time you two got married, did she -- and I read this and I want to make sure I'm clear on this...

    Mr. FRANCE: Mm-hmm.

    LAUER: ...did Lynn send the boys to be with you on the occasion of your marriage ?

    Mr. FRANCE: She did not send them, no.

    LAUER: No? OK, so the boys were there simply for what reason?

    Mr. FRANCE: Well, for one, she was -- it was a previous case where she was on supervised visitation, OK.

    LAUER: Uh-huh .

    Mr. FRANCE: That's another issue.

    LAUER: OK. The boys have now been with you two...

    Ms. A. FRANCE: Correct.

    LAUER: ...for 10 weeks?

    Ms. A. FRANCE: Yes.

    LAUER: Ten weeks now.

    Mr. FRANCE: Perhaps 10, 11 weeks.

    LAUER: And you've heard Lynn said here on Tuesday and said again in Jeff 's piece that she has not been able to see these boys, that you are keeping your children from her. Amanda , why don't you weigh in here?

    Ms. A. FRANCE: That can't be any further from the truth at all. She's -- we bought her tickets to come down, for Mother's Day especially. She's canceled them herself, not us. Every day, every weekend, she'll call and talks to the

    boys. `Come down,' and she....

    Mr. WILLIAMS: We've made -- we've made numerous efforts to negotiate with Lynn 's attorneys visitation.

    Ms. A. FRANCE: Including agreements.

    Mr. WILLIAMS: And she has elected not to exercise it.

    LAUER: I'm not trying to jump into the middle of your domestic dispute here, but would you take the boys to Ohio to see Lynn ?

    Mr. FRANCE: Well, I can't. I can't.

    LAUER: Why not?

    Mr. FRANCE: Because I -- we have a Florida order that says they can't leave the Florida jurisdiction because Florida has the jurisdiction. There are motions in Ohio . They've all been dismissed. Florida has jurisdiction, and until the court approves -- we have to get court approval for -- to bring -- for me to bring the kids to Ohio .

    LAUER: All right. But so again, just to reiterate, you would have no problem -- in fact, you would be willing to pay...

    Mr. FRANCE: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. A. FRANCE: Correct.

    LAUER: ...for Lynn to fly from Ohio to Florida to visit with your two boys.

    Mr. FRANCE: Absolutely. We -- I have discussed this for many -- so many times with Lynn . You have to remember, this has been going on for two years. The children have gone back and forth. We have all the travel records going back and forth as far as the time they were with me and time they were with her. It's pretty much split, more in Florida than there.

    LAUER: You are filing a petition for primary custody of these boys in the state of Florida , correct?

    Mr. FRANCE: For majority custody .

    Ms. A. FRANCE: Correct.

    LAUER: Oh, for majority custody . Normally in a situation like this, it would seem to me -- and I 'm not a legal expert and, Gary , I invite you to weigh in here -- but the primary custody , or majority custody , would go with the mom...

    Ms. A. FRANCE: Right.

    LAUER: ...unless the mom is proven to be unfit in some way. Do you feel that Lynn is unfit in any way to be a mom to these boys?

    Mr. FRANCE: I'll tell you something. Lynn has a history, OK. And I 'm not going to bad-mouth the children 's mother on national TV . She -- we feel that the kids are more stable, comfortable and secure and safe with me.

    LAUER: Amanda , it seems that one of the things that bothers Lynn the most is when she looks on Facebook and she sees posting of photos with you and the boys and, `I'm putting my little angels to bed,' that sort of thing, that you refer to them almost as your boys. Do you understand that at all?

    Ms. A. FRANCE: Yeah, I understand that perfectly. But you know what? They're loved where they are. I love them more than life. And they're not my kids, but when they're with me, you know, I treat them like they are mine. You know, they're not mistreated. I don't know why this is a problem. It should not be a problem. I'm not taunting her. In my mind, taunting, the definition is going on national TV and making false accusations...

    LAUER: Well, look...

    Ms. A. FRANCE: ...to get what you want .

    LAUER: Why do you think...

    Ms. A. FRANCE: Not...

    LAUER: I mean, that is really -- at the crux of this is that Lynn did come on this program on Tuesday under the headline of "I found out my wife -- my husband was cheating or was married to another woman on Facebook ." It's catchy. I mean, there's no...

    Mr. FRANCE: That's a good ploy. That's a great ploy.

    Ms. A. FRANCE: There's nothing.

    LAUER: There's no question about it, that gets attention.

    Mr. FRANCE: That gets attention.

    LAUER: Why do you think she did it? Simply for the attention?

    Mr. FRANCE: I think, yes, simply for attention because she's losing the court battle.

    Ms. A. FRANCE: This is not the first time she's made a drastic thing for attention.

    Mr. FRANCE: Yeah.

    Ms. A. FRANCE: This is not the first time.

    LAUER: How do you want this to end?

    Mr. FRANCE: Well, I want it to end, you know, civilly. I want it to end where both parents, me and Lynn , have a relationship with our children . I would never prevent a mother from seeing their children . Anybody knows me knows I would never do that.

    LAUER: And you'll look at me in the eye, John , and say that you did nothing wrong in this, that you did not cheat on her and you did -- were not carrying on a double life .

    Mr. FRANCE: I was not carrying on a double life . No way. I'm not an angel, OK, but I did not carry on a double life . Lynn knew everything I was doing for two years. Where's she think the kids were going?

    Ms. A. FRANCE: Since 2007 she has known.

    Mr. FRANCE: Yeah, where do you think the kids were going? They're -- you know, now she brings it up two and a half years later?

    LAUER: One other real quick point. She said you got back with her. After you two married, you begged her to come back and in 2009 you reconciled. Is that true?

    Mr. FRANCE: No.

    LAUER: You never went back?

    Mr. FRANCE:

    LAUER: Amanda ?

    Ms. A. FRANCE: She has to say that. No. Why would she say that?

    Mr. FRANCE: I mean, the court -- the -- we have proof and documents, you know. I'm going back and forth from Ohio to Florida , and I try to make as convenient as possible for her where I would do all the leg work, all the traveling, you know, and we do the scheduling ourselves.

    LAUER: All right. When will this be settled, Gary ?

    Mr. WILLIAMS: It's going to be some time yet, Matt , but we do expect to prevail once the facts are presented in a family law court , that John and Amanda should have the boys with them the majority of the time.

    LAUER: Gary , Amanda , John , thank you very much .

    Mr. FRANCE: OK, thank you, Matt.

    LAUER: Appreciate you being here.

TODAY contributor
updated 8/5/2010 9:58:08 AM ET 2010-08-05T13:58:08

In the second part of a tangled he-said, she-said tale of two weddings and a Facebook page, the man accused of bigamy uncovered on the social network claims it’s largely the product of his estranged wife’s imagination.

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Tuesday on TODAY, Lynn France said she learned that John France — with whom she had two sons after a gala 2005 wedding — had taken a second bride only when she saw pictures of that second wedding on the Facebook page of John’s new wife, Amanda. Lynn asserts she is still married to John, and that he has spirited away their two toddler sons.

But on Thursday, John France appeared on TODAY with Amanda and an attorney to tell a decidedly different story. He asserted his marriage to Lynn was never valid in the first place, and that Lynn knew what he was up to every step of the way.

“I was not carrying on a double life, no way,” France told Matt Lauer. “I’m no angel, OK? But Lynn knew everything I was doing.”

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

Two weddings and a Facebook page
Lynn France had a storybook wedding with John in 2005 on Italy’s Amalfi coast, and the couple settled into a marriage, raising their two young sons in Cleveland.

But she said that in 2008, she began to suspect something was awry when John took a trip to China and left his passport at home. Later, she found a hotel website up on the family computer screen, and when she went there, found John with Amanda. She said John told her he was leaving her for Amanda.

But, Lynn said, her sadness turned to shock when she tracked Amanda down on Facebook and found pictures not only of Amanda’s bridal shower, but another storybook wedding — this one between John and Amanda at Disney World, without a divorce decree between John and herself.

But on Thursday John told Lauer that Lynn knew full well that a clerical error had rendered their marriage invalid, and that their own children were with him in his new home in Florida when he married Amanda.

“This goes back years and years; it’s not new news,” John France told Lauer. “I hired an Italian attorney to go and confirm the marriage was illegal. The attorney came back with affidavits stating that it was invalid.

“We discussed this a number of times. At first she believed it, and then she keeps on flip-flopping, OK? This goes back at least two years.”

In a separate interview Wednesday, NBC’s Jeff Rossen asked John France whether he is using a legal loophole to pardon his cheating.

“I don’t think I was cheating,” John said. “If you have a marriage that is not right in the beginning, it’s not right at the end.”

Speaking with Lauer Thursday, John said that while the couple’s two boys didn’t actually attend his wedding to Amanda, they were nonetheless with him in Florida — and Lynn had to know a wedding was afoot. “To make [Lynn] feel comfortable, we had one of the nannies — who was one of [Lynn’s] friends — with the kids.”

He said, she said
Tuesday on TODAY, Lynn also claimed that John France returned to her early last year and reconciled with her, then suddenly took their toddlers to Florida in May. She hasn’t seen them since, and says she can only keep tabs on them through Amanda’s Facebook page. There Amanda refers to the boys as her “little loves,” which Lynn regards as taunting.

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

John France says he’s still sorting through Lynn’s statements, but that none of her accusations are true. He told Lauer he never reconciled with Lynn; instead, he was simply making trips back and forth from Ohio to Florida so Lynn could share in the raising of their children.

And while Lynn claimed she is barred from seeing her children, John’s second bride, Amanda, told Lauer it simply isn’t the case.

“That can’t be any further from the truth at all,” Amanda France said. “We’ve bought her tickets to come down. She’s canceled them herself.”

John France added that he has initiated annulment proceedings against Lynn in Florida and has filed for majority custody of the children, and said that he is thus barred from leaving the state with them.

Appearing with the Frances, John’s attorney Gary Williams told Lauer, “We’ve made numerous efforts to negotiate with Lynn’s visitation, but she’s elected not to exercise them.”

Lauer asked Amanda France whether she can understand Lynn’s pain over not seeing her children.

“Yeah, I understand that perfectly,” she responded. “But you know what? They love where they are. I love them more than life. They’re not my kids, but when they’re with me, you know, I treat them like they are mine. I’m not taunting her.”

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

While John France told Lauer he hopes the complicated court case between himself and Lynn “ends civilly” and that Lynn continues to have a relationship with the children, he made it clear he believes the boys are better off now.

“Lynn has a history,” he told Lauer. “I'm not going to bad-mouth the children’s mother on national TV. [But] we feel the kids are more stable, comfortable and secure and safe with me.”

Which wife is which?
But in a measure of how complex a tale of two weddings can be, France at one point in the interview referred to Amanda as Lynn.

“See, even you’re confused about this!” Lauer chided him.

In a statement to NBC, Lynn France’s attorney, Andrew Zashin, said John France has not exhibited concrete proof he is still not married to Lynn. He added that Lynn did not go on TODAY to publicly embarrass John.

“This narcissistic version of reality is simply incorrect,” Zashin said. “Lynn wants to share her story in order to let people know that they do not have to live as helpless victims. No one should have to go through what Lynn is going through, watching as another woman claims her children on a Facebook page.”

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