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.
Uncertain. Jesus. In a just world, she’d be forced to sign what’s left of it over to Banks. Along with half her paycheck for the rest of her life. And that would be only once she gets out of prison.
Let’s not overlook that Gibson hurt a hell of a lot more people than Banks, here. It’s stories like hers that make it more difficult for women to come forward when they actually have been raped. And that make it more difficult for authorities to charge and convict their assailants.
What a nightmare.