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Cleared Of Rape Conviction, Ex-Football Star Starts Over

Brian Banks weeps in court after his kidnap-rape conviction was dismissed May 24 in Long Beach, Calif. after serving five years in prison for a rape he didn't commit. (AP)

Brian Banks weeps in court after his kidnap-rape conviction was dismissed May 24 in Long Beach, Calif. He had been out of prison for five years, but last month his name was finally cleared. (AP)

When he was 17-years-old, high school football linebacker Brian Banks went to jail for a rape he did not commit. He served his five years, and it took another five before he was able to get his name cleared. Last month, a California court dismissed his conviction after his accuser admitted she’d lied.

Back in 2003, Banks agreed to plead no contest to rape charges brought by a female friend because his lawyer told him the other option was worse.

“My lawyer at the time told me… I’d face 41 years to life if I take this thing to trial.  And I’d be viewed as a big black teenager by the jury and I’d automatically be assumed guilty,” he told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Banks now has a new lawyer, who helped him clear his name after his accuser, Wanetta Gibson, admitted to him in a private conversation, captured on video, that she had lied.

When he went to jail, Banks had to give up a football scholarship to University of Southern California, and what he hoped would be a promising NFL career. Now Banks is going to give his NFL hopes another shot. He reportedly has a tryout lined up with the Seattle Seahawks and other teams have expressed interest.

“It’s a lot to ask for… but… I’ve prepared for this day in and day out,” he said.

Guests:

  • Brian Banks, former high school football player
  • Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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