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Football Player Remains Optimistic After Exoneration

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California Innocence Project Director Justin Brooks with Brian Banks the day of his exoneration

Following six years of incarceration for the false allegation of rape, Brian Banks has finally been acquainted with justice. Banks was imprisoned at Chino State Penitentiary after Wanetta Gibson, a female acquaintance of Banks in high school, accused him of raping and kidnapping her following the an afternoon in which the two consensually made out. Banks was a very promising football player at Polytechnic High School and football scouts paid a visit to Bank’s high school in his sophomore year to witness Bank’s talent. In 2002, Banks was robbed of the opportunity of a football scholarship and promising career in the NFL because Gibsons wanted to conceal the fact that she was sexually active from her mother. Gibson even received 1.5 million dollars from the school district she and Banks attended because they’d been declared guilty of not ensuring Banks’ safety.

Release after completion of 85 percent of his prison term didn’t necessarily indicate freedom for Banks. Not only did he know he’d missed the critical period for success in a football career, but Banks had to register as a sex offender and wear a parole bracelet on his ankle. A friend request from Gibson would allow Banks to become one step closer to truly being a freed man.

When Gibson initiated contact with Banks on Facebook and suggested they meet, Banks used this unexpected communication to officially establish his innocence. Banks was able to allow he and Gibson’s meeting to be recorded and Gibson eventually confessed to lying about the allegations she made and profited from over 10 years ago. Gibson also stated that she’d had no intentions of returning the money she was given. The video and audio of the meeting was presented at trial by the California Innocence Project and on May 24, 2012, Banks was finally deemed innocent and exonerated from the charges.

Banks was given an opportunity by the coach of the Seattle Seahawks whom Banks had met when he was 17. He was not drafted by the Seahawks following the tryouts nor was he drafted by other teams he’d tried out for. Banks’ knack for football declined in those 10 years and it is rather unlikely he’ll ever be able to possess the same athletic skill he had before his imprisonment. While Banks was able to play for the Las Vegas Locomotives, a team within the United Football League, the League was eventually forced to end operations due to insufficient funds. In his recent interview on 60 Minutes this past Sunday, it’s evident that Banks still maintains an admirably positive attitude and he expressed no desire for Gibson to face any consequences for the false accusations that denied Banks of his freedom and destroyed his future in the NFL. Although Banks is now a freed man, there are numerous cases such as his that are not retried and in which those that have been falsely accused are not exonerated. The Pennsylvania Innocence Project is dedicated to proving the innocence of men such as Banks that have been victims to false allegations.

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