The Story Of The False Rape Accusation That Put A USC Recruit Behind Bars For Five Years

  • Eric Goldschein

If you’re like me, this is probably the first time you’ve heard of former high school football star Brian Banks. So you won’t have a lot of time to process all the emotions that go with this story — anger, bewilderment, denial, and finally, pure jubilation that justice was served today. The moral of this horrible tale? This could happen to you, kids.

The original “crime” took place when the Banks and accuser Wanetta Gibson were in high school. The two were apparently hooking up in those days, until for some reason, things got ugly. From ABC:

At age 16, Brian Banks had been a popular student at Polytechnic High in Long Beach, an athlete being scouted by eight colleges.

He verbally accepted an offer to attend the University of Southern California on a four-year scholarship when a serious accusation came from a fellow classmate and childhood friend.

Gibson, then 15 years old, claimed Banks had raped her at school. With a case of he said she said, Banks did as his lawyers urged — to plead no contest and accept a short prison term rather than risk a long one.

Gibson collected $1.5 million after suing the school. Banks spent five years in prison and five years on parole.

Open-and-shut case, it would seem. Except, as it turns out, Gibson had made the story up, for reasons that are still unclear. Once Banks left prison, Gibson actually friended Banks on Facebook, and in a face-to-face meeting admitted to lying. But she didn’t want to take her story public. Why? (Well, besides having to admit that she’s a big, fat liar who got her former friend sent to prison and shattered his dreams of playing pro football?):

Gibson admitted she was worried about having to pay back the money during a second meeting with Banks that was secretly recorded. Defense attorneys quoted Gibson as saying, “‘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.'”

With this as evidence, Superior Court Judge Mark C. Kim threw out Banks’ case, wiping his record clean. With the charges dismissed, Banks will get to take off his monitoring ankle bracelet and become a free man once and for all.

His sex offender status gone, Banks is still hoping for a professional football career, and his attorney appealed to NFL teams to give his client a workout. That does, however, seem unlikely — not many NFL teams will take a chance on a 26-year-old ex-prison inmate (though we will also ask that, perhaps, the San Diego Chargers give him a call?).

And yet, at this moment, who cares? “This is the greatest day of my life,” Banks was quoted as saying, and if he’s happy, we’re happy.

Here’s the story as reported on ABC, including footage of Banks discussing his experience after the case was thrown out:

So, that’s a doozy, huh? A guy who played by the rules, with plans to attend a premier college football program and eventually go pro, has his life derailed by a woman who wanted to a million dollars more than she wanted to keep an innocent man out of prison. Bad things happen to good people, everybody. Stay humble.

(P.S. – There is a certain layer of hell reserved for people who let an innocent man go to jail in exchange for money — and it’s a very hot layer.)