Onetime Top Calif. Football Prospect Exonerated After Serving 5 Years on Rape Charge
A former high school football star whose dreams of a pro career were shattered by a rape conviction burst into tears Thursday as a judge threw out the charge that sent him to prison for more than five years.
Brian Banks, now 26, had pleaded no contest 10 years ago on the advice of his lawyer after a childhood friend falsely accused him of attacking her on their high school campus.
Brian Banks weeps as his kidnap-rape conviction is dismissed Thursday, May 24, 2012, in Long Beach, Calif. (Credit: AP Photo/Long Beach Press-Telegram, Brittany Murray)
The district attorney offered Banks a deal — plead guilty to rape and spend another 18 months in prison, or go to trial and face 41 years to life, CBS Los Angeles reports.
Banks said his defense attorney told him, “‘When you go into that courtroom the jury is going to see a big black teenager and you’re automatically going to be assumed guilty.’ Those are her exact words.”
In a strange turn of events, the woman, Wanetta Gibson, friended him on Facebook when he got out of prison.
In an initial meeting with him, she said she had lied; there had been no kidnap and no rape and she offered to help him clear his record, court records state.
But she refused to repeat the story to prosecutors because she feared she would have to return a $1.5 million payment from a civil suit brought by her mother against Long Beach schools.
During a second meeting that was secretly videotaped, she told Banks, “‘I will go through with helping you but it’s like at the same time all that money they gave us, I mean gave me, I don’t want to have to pay it back,”’ according to a defense investigator who was at the meeting.
It was uncertain Thursday whether Gibson will have to return the money.