At age 17, Brian Banks was accused of kidnapping and raping a high school classmate. A promising high school football star, he was set to study at USC, and likely would have joined the NFL. Yet, in the blink of an eye, his life turned upside down. Despite insisting he was innocent and that the act was consensual, Banks’ attorney believed in the game of he-said, she-said, his client could likely lose in front of a jury and advised him to plead no consent to assaulting his classmate.
Fast forward nearly ten years, after five years behind bars, subsequent probation and registration as a sex offender, Banks received an unlikely Facebook friend request in 2011: from his accuser. According to the California Innocence Project, which took on his case, the woman later admitted that Banks had not kidnapped or raped her during a consensual encounter at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. The group says having admitted she made it up, the alleged victim expressed concern about having to return the $1.5 million civil settlement she received from the Long Beach Unified School District after claiming the school’s lax security provided an unsafe environment that led to the alleged rape.
Could it be this lie that ruined a man’s life was really all about money? A judge tossed out Banks’ conviction last week and Banks says with his past behind him, he still holds out hope of joining the NFL. Shockingly, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Friday that it is not currently involved in any investigation of the woman. Besides ruining her classmate’s life, this lie is sickening because there are so many women every day who are too scared to come forward about rape and sexual abuse. Many fear they won’t be believed, and I just can’t understand why anyone would lie about such a terrible thing.
Each Tuesday night, I contribute to WWRL 1600 AM radio in New York as a legal news correspondent, giving my take on the latest legal headlines, including the story of Banks, during the Your Legal Rights radio show at 11pm. Be sure to tune in each Tuesday night.