A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has reversed the 2002 rape and kidnapping conviction of former Long Beach Poly football standout Brian Banks.
Banks, now 26, was wrongly convicted of the charges based on the testimony of Wanetta Gibson, an acquaintance.
Gibson testified that Banks raped her on the Poly campus. Banks said the encounter was consensual.
Rather than face a prison term of from 41 years to life, Banks accepted a plea deal that destroyed his dream of playing college football. At Poly, he had been a star at linebacker.
Gibson sued the Long Beach Unified School District, claiming the Poly campus was not a safe environment, and won a $1.5-million settlement.
Nearly a decade later, Gibson contacted Banks on Facebook, met with him and admitted that she had fabricated the story.
Banks spent more than five years in prison, was required to register as a sex offender and was still on probation wearing an electronic monitoring device.
The reversal of the decision was won by the California Innocence Project, which took the new evidence back to Judge Mark C. Kim, who had presided over the original case.
Banks leaned against the counsel table and sobbed during a short court hearing Thursday morning, where a prosecutor conceded the case.
“Cases like Brian’s are the reason I do the work I do,” said Banks’ attorney, Justin Brooks, the director of the Innocence Project and a professor at California Western School of Law. “I’m grateful to the Los Angeles [County] district attorney’s office for reviewing the evidence and joining us in seeking to end this injustice.”