County of Conviction: Los Angeles
Convicted of: Rape
Sentence: 7 Years + Lifetime Registered Sex Offender
Years Served: 5 Years 2 Months
Released: May 24, 2012
Cost of Wrongful Incarceration: $232,497
In 2002, seventeen-year-old Brian Banks was wrongfully convicted of rape. At the time of his conviction, Banks was, by all accounts, a rising football star destined to play in the NFL. Tragically, Banks would never realize his dream of going to college and playing professional football.
A high-school acquaintance – Wanetta Gibson – shattered that dream one fateful day after she accused Banks of rape and kidnapping following a consensual sexual encounter on the school campus. It was Banks’ word against hers and she was not likely to change her story. After all, Gibson sued the Long Beach Unified School District claiming the school’s lax security provided an unsafe environment that led to the fraudulent rape. She would eventually receive a settlement of 1.5 million dollars.
Banks was faced with an impossible decision at the time – either fight the charges and risk spending 41 years-to-life in prison, or take a plea deal and spend a little over 5 years of actual prison confinement. Although it would mean destroying his chance to go to college and play football, a lengthy probationary period, and a lifetime of registration as a sex offender, Banks chose the lesser of two evils when he pleaded no contest to the charges.
Nearly a decade after his conviction, Gibson recanted her statements and has acknowledged she fabricated the whole story. The California Innocence Project presented this evidence of Banks’ innocence to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office who launched an investigation into the case. After a thorough review of the evidence, the District Attorney’s Office conceded that Banks was wrongfully convicted.
On Thursday, May 24, 2012, Judge Mark C. Kim of the Los Angeles Superior Court reversed Banks’ conviction and ended his nightmare of wrongful conviction.