Liberty Planet Weblog

Man accepted a plea deal that destroyed his life!

Posted on: May 27, 2012

Written by Katie McCall

In the summer of 2002, Brian Banks was finishing up high school in Long Beach, CA. He had high hopes of attending USC or UCLA on a football scholarship. His family was proud of his achievements. During one day of summer school classes he asked his teacher to be excused to make a phone call. What transpired would change the course of his life forever.

Wanetta Gibson and he fooled around while he was excused and their stories about how it happened differed. Gibson said that Banks dragged her into an elevator, took her down to the basement and raped her. Banks said the sexual activity was consensual. Gibson’s story prompted her parents to sue the school district for not keeping a closer watch on students. And they won. 1.5 million dollars.

The lawsuit resulted in Banks’ arrest. Being charged with rape was nowhere in his future plans and his mother believed his story. She sold everything she had to hire an attorney so that her son would have the best chance at a solid defense.

But in the end the attorney told Banks that he could either take the case to court and “risk losing everything” by being sentenced to 41 years to life in prison, OR…

… he could take the plea deal the prosecution was offering.

Terrified and overwhelmed, Banks made the decision to not risk his entire life on a “he said, she said” story. He plead no contest to rape and spent six years in prison.

After his release he was registered as a sex offender and forced to wear a tracking device. He was a felon. Gone were his hopes and dreams. Instead he was reduced to a second class citizen and unable to find work.

And then it happened. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he received a facebook friend request from Gibson. She wanted to meet with him and apologize. Unknown to her, the friend that Banks had accompany him was a private investigator who recorded the conversation.

“He never raped me,” she told the friend while Banks sat, soaking it all in. She apparently wanted to make amends and hadn’t come clean before because she was afraid her family would have to return the money.

Attorneys from The Innocence Project took Banks’ case– the only one they’ve ever taken post release– and represented him in court.

Yesterday morning, May 24, 2012, Banks appeared before a judge for a hearing that lasted less than a minute. The judge dismissed the case and overturned his conviction.

Banks broke down in tears. A friend handed him a black hoodie with the word “Innocent” in bold, white letters on the front. He told the media, “It’s been a struggle, it’s been a nightmare. It’s more than I can describe, the things that I’ve been through.”

The state says it will not be pursuing Gibson. They say that such a case would be “difficult to prove.”

One thing is for certain… the system is set up to get the innocent to plead before trial. If Banks’ attorney truly believed in his client he would have never asked him to plea before the evidence was fully presented.

Additional links on this story:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/25/justice/california-rape-exoneration/

Source: Nevertakeaplea

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