Former inmate exonerated in rape case joins pro football team
Brian Banks speaks at a press conference in Las Vegas on Thursday.
September 21st, 2012
08:08 AM ET

Former inmate exonerated in rape case joins pro football team

Brian Banks' professional football dream is one step closer to coming true.

A decade ago, Banks was a football standout at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in California and had been offered a scholarship to play at the University of Southern California.

Then he was accused of rape. Fearing a potentially long sentence, he followed the advice of his attorney and pleaded no contest to assaulting a classmate.

But he maintained his innocence throughout nearly six years of imprisonment, subsequent probation and registration as a sex offender.

And, according to the California Innocence Project, the woman later admitted that Banks had not kidnapped or raped her during a consensual encounter.

A judge in California tossed out his conviction in May.

On Thursday, Banks, 26,  had his first practice with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League, a four-team minor league circuit. He hopes to be on the field Wednesday in the Locos home opener against the Virginia Destroyers.

“There was a point in my life where I literally had to put football aside to survive in prison. I came home in 2007, went to junior college, and then had to wear a GPS tracking device and I could not play football. But I never lost faith, and I never lost that passion for it,” Banks said at a press conference on Thursday.

Locomotives coach and general manager Jim Fassel says Banks, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound linebacker, has the character to excel at professional football.

"I can only imagine the toughness he has had to show over the last however many years. For him to clearly set his goals and go after them, he’s mentally tough. He has all the characteristics you want of someone on your team," Fassel, a former NFL coach, said at the press conference Thursday.

Banks worked out with NFL teams earlier this year and they told him what he needs to do to make it to the sport's top level. Then he got the call from the Locomotives.

“This has been an amazing journey,” he said Thursday. "This is big, a giant step to my overall pursuit of playing in the NFL. I think this is the best way to gain experience. I thank God for the opportunity.”

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Filed under: California • Football • Justice • Las Vegas • Nevada • Sports
soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. Paul

    What does that have to do with this man being in prison for something he did not do Irene. Get a life...

    September 21, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. john4carter

    Yep, a woman can make a false accusation, a man can serve up to +40 years in prison. If the woman is found out, she gets a "misdemeanor" conviction with a fine. Is there any justice? There is a down side to all this unfairness... A lot of guys will not convict on a jury unless the evidence is absolutely 100% rock solid.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Logic

      The downside to making a woman get felony convictions for false accusations, tragic as a false statement may be, is she is not motivated to come forward and exonerate a man if she feels a prison sentence is on the other side.

      But on the other side, these 'ladies' might think twice about spurning a man she is angry with by making up such stories. We need to focus time and court cost on nailed real rapists to the wall for their hideous crime.

      It is horrible, all the way around.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  3. Neece

    I imagine that they could press charges for filing a false police report, however, that may only me a misdemeaner. Also, the statute of limitations may have run, which leaves no leagal recorse. I wish this man all the best. He's had a long tough road, but by God, he's still standing. He still has a shot to live his dream and it sounds to me like he doesn't plan to give up any time soon. As for the young lady, if you can call her that, karma's a bi.ch!!!! This I believe. It is a shame that she can't be prosecuted for her lies! I agree that she should spend as much time in jail as he did. Too bad they didn't put her name out there for all the world to see that she a terrible person! What kind of person does something like to another. It says a lot about her!!!

    September 21, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • CCohen

      Amen!

      September 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Remember, she was a high school girl and under terrific peer and family pressure at the time of her testimony. There was talk at the trial that he wouldn't serve much time by pleading out.

      September 22, 2012 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jimi

    Good luck, Brian!!! If Rod "He Hate Me" Smart can do it, so can you!!!

    September 21, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. walkingfan

    He should feel right at home

    September 21, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Say it louder

      You didnt even bother to read the article did you? Nope because a women lied is why he went to prison...i swear Americans are a lazy bunch.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      You should put the word "Sleep" in front of your handle.
      Talk about intellectual laziness...

      September 21, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Lou

      Americans are lazy and the females in your family are toothless streetwalkers that smoke crack and payoff Peter the pimp. Sounds correct seeing as how we're stereotyping.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • CaraW

      I'm glad you said this before I did. Yikes!! I am sorry if this young man suffered for something he did not do. There do seem to be a lot of former criminals in pro football though.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      @CaraW–plenty of NFL players just waiting to join the ranks of present cons as well.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ROMNEY2012

    That woman destroyed his life and gets away scot free. I say put her in Jail for 30 years because unlike him, she actually went out of the way to destroy somebody's life.

    Women that lie to destroy the lives of men that did NOTHING wrong should get life in prison AT LEAST.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ian Monam

      I agree, if she lied and sent a man to prison, she should serve as much time as he did.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Women Lie

      True Dat, lock that HO up for a minimum of his time served, also castrate her

      September 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mary

    What ever happened to the girl that lied?
    She should actually be paying compensation to Mr. Banks, and she should also get some jail time.
    Anyone know?

    September 21, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • pooflingingmonkey

      Nothing happened to her at all. I read an earlier article following Banks' release from prison, where his attorney mentioned that the "victim" had contacted Banks wanting to "start again". It's pathetic. This young man did nothing wrong, went to prison for 5-6 years, lost his chance to go to college and play in the NFL, all because some bint lied.

      It's simply not right. And I wish this young man all the luck in the world.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      What's the statute of limitations for perjury?

      September 21, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. GBinSC

    It is unfortunate that it took six years to find out this young man was wrongly accused. I hope he gets more and more opportunities, glad to see things are improving for him.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. paul

    well 90 percent of the nfl are cons including michael sick.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • brass monkey

      WRONG.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul is a huge loser

      You think it's soooooo funny making light of this poor guy's suffering at the hands of some ho's greed and lies....I hope something like this happens to you so I can laugh at your sorry azz.....

      September 21, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • j

      Sounds like paul is really just jealous of nfl players. I could even bet that the 90% he is talking about live cleaner lives then he does.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    I am so glad that this young man dreams have come true. Give your all, you deserve it. God Bless.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Conor

    If I were in his shoes, I'd probably be angry and outraged at the world for being wronged the way he was. But this man stood up and made something of his life, despite the system and that woman screwing him over. Say what you will about the accuser, but the system also makes it VERY easy for innocent people to be locked up.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      She must have been very, VERY good in the sack!

      September 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pete

    The woman should do time.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Truth

    The name of the the woman is Wanetta Gibson.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Michael

    Where is the rest of the justice in this story?? I'm thrilled this gentleman gets a second shot, but what about the woman who profitted by this? The accuser did so because she wanted to get rich, did so, admitted it, and TOLD HIM that the reason she never recanted her story is because she was afraid that she was going to have to give the money back!!! What kind of worthless lowlife does this to another human being AND gets away with it??

    September 21, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. CLE fan

    Dude can play on my team anytime. I hope his dream comes true.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse | Reply
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