"Former inmate is cleared of rape; Accuser admits she lied about ex-football star" by Linda Deutsch | associated press, May 25, 2012
LONG BEACH, Calif. - 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.
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Maybe they just got the call wrong, 'eh?
Brian Banks, now 26, 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.
In a strange turn of events, the woman, Wanetta Gibson, friended him on Facebook when he got out of prison.
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.
Prosecutors also said they did not immediately know if she might be prosecuted for making the false accusation when she was 15....
Just wondering when war criminals and their mouthpiece media enablers are going to face charges.
Banks, once a star middle linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, had attracted the interest of such college football powerhouses as the University of Southern California, Ohio State University, and the University of Michigan, according to the website Rivals.com, which tracks the recruiting of high school football and basketball players.
Banks said he had verbally agreed to attend USC on a four-year scholarship when he was arrested.
He still hopes to play professional football and has been working out regularly. His lawyer, Justin Brooks, appealed to NFL teams to give him a chance.
Banks said outside court Thursday that he had lost all hope of proving his innocence until Gibson contacted him....
Banks recalled being shocked and speechless on the day Gibson reached out to him after he had been released from prison, having served five years and two months.
“I thought maybe it wasn’t real,’’ he said. “How could she be contacting me?’’
He said he knew that if he became angry when he met with her it wouldn’t help, so he struggled to keep calm.
“I stopped what I was doing and got down on my knees and prayed to God to help me play my cards right,’’ he said.
In court, Deputy District Attorney Brentford Ferreira told Superior Court Judge Mark C. Kim that prosecutors agreed that the case should be thrown out. Kim dismissed it immediately.
Banks had tried to win release while he was in prison, but Brooks, a law professor and head of the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law in San Diego, said he could not have been exonerated without the woman coming forward and recanting her story.
Brooks said it was the first case he had ever taken in which the defendant had already served his time and had been free for a number of years.
Banks remained on probation, however, and was still wearing his electronic monitoring bracelet at Thursday’s hearing. His lawyer said the two planned to report to probation officials and have it removed.
“The charges are dismissed now,’’ Brooks said. “It’s as if it didn’t happen.’’
Banks had been arrested after Gibson said he met her in a school hallway and urged her to come into an elevator with him. They had been friends since middle school and were in the habit of making out in a school stairwell, according to court papers.
There were contradictions in Gibson’s story, as she told some people the rape happened in the elevator and others that it happened in a stairwell.
A kidnapping enhancement was added to the case because of the allegation that Banks had taken her to the stairwell. That enhancement was also thrown out Thursday.
Outside court, Banks donned a sweatshirt that read “Innocent,’’ as several friends and family members wept. His parents were jubilant, and Banks thanked them for standing by him.