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. wheels

    im rooting for this guy, and that woman who accused him should be thrown behind bars

    September 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Irene

    Yes....put this woman anyone that falsely accuses someone of a crime in prison!!! I'm soooo happy for this young man! I hope and pray to God he makes on the field!

    September 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mark

    Can someone tell me why this woman does not go to jail??? She lied and it could have destroyed this young man. Was she told that if she tells the truth, she won't do time?

    September 21, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. driranek

    The woman has effectively confessed to perjury at the very least. If the Long Beach DA had a functional pair of brain cells she'd already be behind bars. If she's got any money or property he's got about the best possible grounds for a lawsuit that will ruin her.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Xira

    Never plead out to a crime that gets you on 'The List'. The only person who wins in that case is the defense lawyer who's more interested in pushing the case through than in justice.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • SueW

      Did you learn this from experience? Your name on a list?

      September 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • tony

      Sue your reply was uncalled for.... it was a perfectly reasonable statement.

      September 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Way Out There

      Sue, who are you really angry at?

      September 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. haha

    i think its funny most women have stayed away from this article, meanwhile there are several feminsit posting on other forums. This would be gold for them.

    September 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • And....

      How the hell would you know what women are posting here? You obviously need to learn what "feminist" means...you sound 12.

      September 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Perry

    How is it a scab league? It isn't full of players that replaced NFL players? Who watches this league?

    September 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Slappy_McGiggles

    Most pro football players look like they belong in jail anyway, so he should fit right in.

    September 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duck

      Clearly a racsist!!

      September 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      My son is a football player and I take real offence to that! Most people think "it is just a game" but those men work harder than you ever have I guarantee that! And while in college they not only have a full class load but practice, games and most schools require them to do 8 hours of study labs a week. Their schedules are full and on top of it they have to keep their grades above what the average student has to keep theirs at. So these men are educated and talented. They don't just walk on the field with half a brain. I would love for you to say that comment to an O line!

      September 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Freddo

    I hope his accuser was prosecuted and ended up in jail.

    Why do I think women's groups would stand up for her and blame him in spite of her admission.

    September 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Because they would.

      Scott

      September 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I don't think so...women like these give true victims of ra pe less credibility.

      She should be held accountable for her actions.

      Oh, yeah, I'm female, by the way.

      September 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Not saying this is the case here at all (because I'm not familiar w/this case) but just because someone retracts a statement doesn't mean they did it completely on their own. Sometimes (especially in smaller communities) the accuser is pressured by the abuser's friends & family to retract their statements either through intimidation or otherwise. Just like people who admit to something they didn't do, people can also take back true statements and later claim they were false all along. It's a crazy world, sadly you just never really know what the truth is!

      September 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      I agree! She needs to be behind bars. But unfortunetly she probably is NOT. I had a friend who's ex wife tried to accuse him of raping her daughter (his step daughter) in an ugly divorce. He was guilty until proven innocent and when she finally admitted she lied they did nothing to her other than repremand her in court. Women like that give the rest of us a bad name. They need to start punishing women who do this and maybe it will start happening less.

      September 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maryellen

      This woman should spend twice as long as he did in jail.

      September 21, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. burnz

    I think the woman who lied should be charged and do all the time he did. Regardless of if he wants a conviction, she wasted tax payer money, and a message shoudl always be sent, that this behaviour is unacceptable.

    September 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • tgodraw

      quit hatin

      September 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. formerpg

    Ok. So, he's not the only former inmate released from prison to play professional football. I knew a lot of guys reccently released from California Prisons that either tried out for professional football clubs, or, played simi-pro football. In fact, he's playing for the UFL, not the NFL. They are no different than the former other football leagues that have played the sport and folded. I never knew, in fact, that the UFL was a "farm" league for the NFL. I knew some former players for the Oakland Invaders that went to the NFL. But, their careers did not last beyond a season or two. I'm not "hating." But, I simply do not see the fanfare about any of this that other readers may see. If he want to make a contribution, do so in a non selfish manner. Promote causes to prevent wrongful arrest and incarceration. Especially in California, where hs is from.

    September 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      Ahh, let the guy chase his dream.
      If he's eventually able to make an NFL roster – I'm sure he'll have fulfilled his goal.

      BUT:
      You're right that he may not have a long or illustrious football career – probably practice squad and special teams
      His athletic dreams were stolen from him and now he has a chance to pursue them again – at an older age and probably lacking the position skills he would have learned at USC
      If I were him, I would have played a season of Junior College football – El Camino CC is a JC powerhouse and then gotten picked up by a D-1 College team – there have been older guys who played as minor league baseball and then went back to college to play football at a later age – a couple of them did get to the NFL but they were quarterbacks
      and he's a linebacker – which means contact on almost every play and higher chance of injury,

      Anyway – Good Luck Brian Banks

      September 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. SPW

    Vick did it, why not this guy

    September 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      Can you not read, nothing is mentioned of michale Vicks

      September 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Claptrap

    A woman falsely accused him, he had to serve behind bars with some of the sickest human beings we have to offer in Society.

    Somehow, the woman isn't thrown into the cage he had to endure for the length of time he spent. That's messed up, no equality, no justice.

    September 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dontbesodumb

    yes she could be charged with filing a false report. there are more serious charges she could and should face. charges like, Fraud, Purgery, will full neglagnce, unlawful use of recousrces( for all the man hours spent investigatin the claims). The list goes on and on. If they really wanted to she could be facing 15 plus years, and she could and be sued by Mr. Banks.

    September 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mary

    Nice to the justice works so well for women! only now is justice showing some equality for male victims of raype 2012. Long time to wait... Wouldn't ya say?

    September 21, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
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