Long Beach, CA – After unjustly sending a former high school athlete, Brian Banks, to jail for over five years on rape, his accuser, Wanetta Gibson, is being sued by the Long Beach Unified School District for legal fees and repayment of settlement funds. In a lawsuit filed in November, the district alleged Gibson had committed contractual fraud.
In 2002, Gibson, who was 15 at the time of the supposed assault, accused the then 16-year-old Banks of attacking her while on the campus of the Long Beach Polytechnic High School around lunchtime.
Banks insisted the sexual contact between the two classmates had been consensual, and that they’d only engaged in heavy petting, not sex, when they’d snuck off to a secluded stairwell.
Regardless, the young man was advised to plead no contest on the charges of forcible rape to avoid a potentially lengthier sentence of 41 years to life in prison if convicted in trial. Banks was warned the jury would see a black teenager and automatically make assumptions of his guilt.
The trial judge sentenced the athlete to six years in state prison, even though the teenager was led to believe he would be given 18-months. Although tested, no actual DNA was ever recovered in the case, according to CBS News.
Banks gave up on his NFL dream, a scholarship to USC, and served over five years in jail. While doing so, Banks maintained his innocence.
Nine years after his conviction Banks received a Facebook friend request from Gibson, the woman who accused him of the rape he was jailed for. He asked that they meet with a private investigator, and surprisingly Gibson showed up to tell her version of the events surrounding the alleged rape.
On several occasions during the discussion she repeated that Banks did not assault or rape her.
Amidst the secretly recorded interview Gibson said the only reason she felt disinclined to clear his name was because, “I don’t want to have to pay it back,” referencing a monetary settlement her family received. As in Gibson’s own documented statement to the private investigator, “The actual last settlement was $1.5 million.” Gibson received a settlement in a civil lawsuit brought against the school district by her mother, blaming them for the lack of security that contributed to the so-called rape that transpired on campus.
The tape ultimately contributed to Banks’ exoneration on the false rape accusation in May 2012. Gibson later admitted to authorities that Banks did not kidnap or rape her, and that they had a consensual encounter of making out. The woman initially refused to come forward with the truth because she didn’t want to have to return money her family was awarded.
The Huffington Post reports, the district is now trying to recoup about $1.9 million that was spent defending itself against Gibson, and another $1 million in punitive damages.
Banks recently signed a contract to play with the Atlanta Falcons and has become a spokesman for the California Innocence Project, which works to exonerate the wrongly accused.