Brian Banks dreamed of making it to the NFL. He had a full scholarship to one of the top football programs in the country, and he was a star athlete from Long Beach Polytechnic High School, the intuition responsible for more NFL players than any other high school in the nation. But his dreams were shattered when he was accused of kidnapping and raping a childhood friend in a school stairwell.

Based on his lawyer’s advice and to avoid a possible life sentence, Banks pled no contest to the charges and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. After serving half his term, he was released and got the strangest request: his accuser friended him on Facebook.

When they decided to meet, Wanetta Gibson, 15 at the time of the alleged attack, admitted that she’d made up the whole story. Banks did not kidnap or rape her, and she agreed to help him try to clear his name, but with one condition: she didn’t want to testify in court.

Gibson’s family received a $1.5 million settlement from a civil lawsuit they field against the Long Beach schools and she feared that if she went to court she’d have to pay the money back.

ESPN reports:

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.”

Now that he’s cleared his name, Gibson hopes to still make it to the NFL and his attorney has asked several pro teams to give the 26-year-old a shot. And while the odds are certainly stacked against him, I won’t count him out just yet.

  • iQgraphics

    i was thinking that too…like if this was MY SON!
    OMG! I don’t know what I’d do first.,

  • kidole

    Why isn’t this “woman” being thrown in his old cell??

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  • LemonNLime

    “Women” like this are PURE evil. This “woman” should be in prison for lying under oath, falsifying a police report, and defrauding the state of 1.5M. I wish he would have worn a recording device the minute he agreed to meet with her. “Women” like this are horrible because they ruin lives and take away from real women who have been raped. Might not be a popular opinion but this is exactly why when rape trails occur, I don’t side with the women automatically like a lot of people do. Men and women lie so I reserve my judgement until I see evidence of a crime. It is far too easy for a spurned woman to cry wolf, cry on stand, and then ruin someone’s life.

    Seriously, if I was a mom I would teach my sons to stay FAR away these girls because they can and will ruin your life. If I was his mother, that girl would need to be sleeping with a rifle because her a** would be grass. There would be no place for her or her family to hide and by the time I was done with them, they would be so broke their great grand kids would STILL be paying my family.

  • The Taker

    Man, poor baby. That female don’t deserve not an ounce of luck or prosperity in her got damn life. What she did to this young man was/is horrific. Even though Brian is working hard to get back on track, who freaking knew how far he would have been in his life had she not ruined it with lies. It’s because of females like her , WOMEN and girls when truly raped, have a hard time getting their cases proved and the attacker convicted. This is so disgusting, ugh. I saw this on the news yesterday and I really wish I could have jumped through the t.v. screen to give him a hug. I really hope Brian gets his dreamed granted and that he has a happy and successful life. Much luck to him.

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