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Teen’s NFL Dreams Squashed By Fake Rape Claim, Woman Confesses 10 Years Later::
The kidnap-rape conviction of a once-promising prep football star was
dismissed Thursday following a recantation by his accuser.
Brian Banks collapsed in sobs
on the counsel table during a court hearing where a prosecutor quickly
conceded the decade-old case and moved for the dismissal.
summer of 2002, Banks’ future looked bright: He was a 17-year-old high
school football star being heavily recruited by a number of colleges.
But in a single day that changed with the accusations of kidnapping and
rape by a female student.
He maintained there was no rape and their
sexual contact was consensual, but his lawyer urged him to plead no
contest rather than risk a sentence of 41 years to life in prison if
convicted. He followed the advice and went to prison for six years,
shattering his dreams of gridiron glory.
In a strange turn of
events, the woman who accused him a decade ago friended him on Facebook
when he got out of prison. Wanetta Gibson explained she wanted to “let
bygones be bygones.”
According to documents in the case, she met
with Banks and said she had lied; there was no kidnap and no rape and
she offered to help him clear his record.
But she subsequently
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.
She was quoted as telling 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
Justin Brooks, a lawyer who heads the Innocence Project, said
that Banks has remained on probation, under electronic monitoring, has
had to register as a sex offender and has had trouble getting a job.
He said Banks continues to train for what he hopes will be a future chance at a football career.
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