Friday, May 25, 2012

Horrifying false rape claim

Associated Press

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.

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.

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.

Prosecutors also said they didn't immediately know if she might be prosecuted for making the false accusation when she was 15.

Gibson did not attend the hearing on Thursday.

Banks, once a star middle linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, 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 attorney 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.

"It's been a struggle. But I'm unbroken and I'm still here today," the tall, muscular Banks said, tears flowing down his face.

He 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 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 first thing the two planned to do was report to probation officials and have it removed.

"The charges are dismissed now," Brooks said. "It's as if it didn't happen. ... It was the shortest, greatest proceeding I've ever been part of."

Banks had been arrested after Gibson said he met her in a school hallway and urged her to come into an elevator with him. The two 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 the stairwell.

A kidnapping enhancement was added to the case because of the allegation Banks had taken her to the stairwell. That enhancement also was thrown out Thursday.

Outside court, Banks donned a sweat shirt that read "Innocent," as several friends and family members wept. His parents were jubilant, and Banks thanked them for standing by him.

"I know the trauma, the stress that I've been through, but I can't imagine what it's like to have your child torn from you," he said. "I don't know what I would have done without my parents."


  1. Here's what's fair...she should have to give him the money, plus interest.

  2. They probably spent the money already.

  3. I know he was young and intimidated by the huge charges against him but im still baffled at why he took that deal knowing full well there was no sex and evidence.

    If a public defender is actually a DA defender then ask for another one and dont sign that tahl form until you get the plea deal in writing.

  4. She should start by spending 5 years and 2 months in prison.

  5. "A kidnapping enhancement was added to the case because of the allegation Banks had taken her to the stairwell. That enhancement also was thrown out Thursday."

    Whereas the real kidnapping that occurred will probably remain unpunished.

  6. Not only that, but the lying woman had the audacity to try to "friend" him on facebook, I'm not kidding.

  7. Just saw this on the L.A. Times site. Was wondering if you were going to cover it.
    Would be interesting to have Banks invited here to tell his story straight to COTWA.

  8. Having Banks explain why he pleaded no contest when he didn't have sex would be good. Doubtless the lawyer told him that if the judge and jury didn't beleive him he was looking at 30 years.

  9. In the military, you cannot plead no contest. It's either not guilty or guilty. If you don't plead not guilty, then you must plead guilty and explain to the judge why you believe that you are guilty. This requirement, in some ways, makes the UCMJ a better system to protect against unjust convictions as you are forced to take the case to trial if your client denies wrongdoing. As a TDS counsel, I've had a few clients back me into a corner by refusing to follow my advice to take a deal, but I fought the charges at trial the best I could and, thankfully, my clients have never gotten worse than what the Government was offering.
    Now, as a civilian who represents Servicemembers, I always tell the Government that my clients don't pay me to plead them guilty when they refuse to take the deal the Government's offering.

  10. Why would anyone confess to a crime they did not do?

    Anon thank you for asking this question. There are many factors as to why an innocent person would confess to a crime they did not commit. The elephant in the room would be facing LIFE in prison or 5 years to have the whole thing go away. We live in a country where we have a dysfunctional criminal justice system. The root of the problem is, there is no search for the truth. Rather than the government having to prove guilt, the defendant MUST prove innocence. Before the trial has even begun the government is already calling the accuser “THE VICTIM”. Another factor is having money to defend, in most cases the government has unlimited resources, while most defendants are indigent. To properly defend in a rape case it is estimated that one would need 100,000.00 dollars. Another outrage is that the family in the above case got 1.5 million. Unfortunately there is no punishment for a False Rape Accusation in the Anglo world. Women have been known to make false rape accusations for not having to pay for a cab, a cigarette, for revenge, or to get the upper hand in a child custody battle. There should be no such thing as a 94% conviction rate for prosecutors; this in itself should raise eyebrows. In the American Anglo world, we have the highest mass prison incarceration than any other country in the world. America has 5% of the world’s population but has 25% of the world’s prisoners. Could you imagine an all white jury trying this poor black kid! This would have been a slam dunk case for the prosecuting government. To learn more please visit this site. . Rather than honestly accept that their case is weak or nonexistent, they instead choose to run with it, ignoring and excluding (with the help of the trial judge) evidence that would point to innocence, and rallying behind extremely weak evidence. They are not concerned with truth or justice but rather with convictions. The accusation is the conviction in today’s legal system. In America, government-appointed lawyers are the means by which hundreds of thousands of poor people are railroaded into prison. It is the job of the victim's lawyer to "sell the deal". The judges will rig the game to nail you, regardless of the law, the facts, the evidence, precedents, the truth, or anything else. By Arod99k May 25, 2012

  11. Tough job kyle suggesting an innocent man plead guilty to a rape that never happened.
    Not a position i would like to be in.

  12. I heard on the news that Miss Gibson is now homeless-YES! Karma does indeed exist...

  13. This is one of the most disgusting things I've ever heard! And the scumbag gets to keep the money?

    What the hell happened to this country?

  14. This guy was badly let down by the system. His defence team don't seem to have been too competent and the judge doesn't seem to have been too bothered by the lack of evidence.
    Also, the young lady in question effectively obtained public money by fraud. How is she not being charged?

  15. Maybe this could be a lesson for miami court reporters for when they can dissect if a testimony will be false or not.