Brian Keith Banks
Brian Keith Banks (born July 24, 1985) is a former American football player who was falsely accused of rape.
Mr Banks was a standout high school football star at Polytechnic High School (Poly) in Long Beach, California. In 2002, his Junior year, he verbally committed to USC. After being falsely accused of rape by classmate Wanetta Gibson, he spent close to six years imprisoned and five years on parole. In 2012, his conviction was overturned when his accuser confessed that she had fabricated the entire story.
Mr Banks lost his best years for professional football while incarcerated. Despite this Mr Banks sought to resume his football career following his exoneration. Mr Banks played for the now-defunct United Football League (UFL), attending mini-camps for several NFL teams. Mr Banks later signed as an undrafted free agent with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League (UFL) in 2012 and with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL) on April 3, 2013.
In the summer of 2002, aged 16, Banks was arrested and charged after classmate Wanetta Gibson falsely accused him of dragging her into a stairway and raping her. He was expelled from Long Beach Polytechnic High School right after being taken into custody and placed at Juvenile Hall. Shawn Ashley, who was a co-principal of Long Beach Poly High, had claimed that Banks would not be allowed back on campus regardless of any jurisdictional outcome. Faced with a possible 41 years to life sentence, he accepted a plea bargain that included five years in prison, five years of probation, and registering as a sex offender. Banks stated that his lawyer had said that by pleading no contest he would receive probation, but no jail time.
Gibson and her mother Wanda Rhodes sued the Long Beach Unified School District, claiming the Poly campus was not a safe environment, and won a $1.5 million settlement.
Confession of False Accusation
In March 2011, Gibson contacted Banks on Facebook, met with him, and admitted in the presence of a private investigator Banks had hired that she had fabricated the story. Banks secretly recorded Gibson's confession, but she later (according to Banks and his private investigator) refused to tell prosecutors that she had lied so that she wouldn’t have to return the money she and her family had won in court. It is unclear why she made the initial false accusation.
California Innocence Project
Prior to the taped confession, Banks had asked for help from the California Innocence Project (CIP), a nonprofit law school clinic run by the San Diego-based California Western School of Law that investigates and litigates cases of actual innocence. At that time, however, there had not been sufficient evidence of Banks's innocence for them to take on the case. However, after the confession, CIP decided to make it the organization's first case involving a wrongfully convicted person who had already been released from prison.
The video evidence was not admissible in court because the video had been made without Gibson's knowledge or consent and was not accompanied by a signed confession from her. However, CIP was instrumental in putting together additional evidence supporting Banks' story, which led the district attorney to ask the judge to reverse the conviction on May 24, 2012. Banks was also relieved of his record as a sex offender, allowing him to resume his sports career.
Banks supports CIP in its efforts on behalf of the wrongly convicted, participating in CIP's 2013 Innocence March.