I abhor that in court actual victims of rape often unjustly end up on trial instead of the accused rapist, but I abhor equally that a young and confused girl or a disturbed and even plainly malicious woman can accuse a man of rape and with no other evidence than her say-so, the man can be convicted of that horrific crime and sentenced to prison. To falsely accuse a man of rape is a despicable deed. Consequently, I am appalled at the Brian Banks case.
In high school as a senior in line for football scholarships, Banks was falsely accused of rape by a sophomore, Wanetta Gibson. He pleaded guilty to avoid a harsh sentence and served five years and two months in prison. Ten years after the false accusation toppled his future, years after he had been branded a sex offender, the girl who accused him of rape (now a 26-year-old woman) tried to friend him on Facebook. He asked her instead to meet with him and a private investigator, reports the L.A. Times, and during that meeting, she admitted that he did not rape her. Per the L.A. Times:
In the summer of 2002, Banks was considered a top college football prospect. A 6-foot-4, 225-pound middle linebacker at Long Beach Poly High, Banks had been courted by USC, UCLA and other football powerhouses. [...]He was attending summer school, and asked his teacher to leave class and make a phone call, court papers said. Then Banks, a senior, ran into Gibson, a sophomore. [...] Banks said they fooled around, but that their sexual contact was consensual. His mother, Leomia Myers, believed him, and said she sold her condo and her car to pay for his defense. [...] “I knew I didn’t raise my son to do something so horrendous,” she said. [...] Gibson’s version shifted over the years. She could not be reached Thursday for comment.Although Gibson cannot be reached, the L.A. Times also reports via court records that she plunged Banks into this nightmare when she passed an error-ridden note "containing misspellings" to a friend in high school that declared Banks had raped her. As a result, he found himself facing charges. The story in her old note sounds improbable to me, much more like a rape fantasy, but apparently the Long Beach, California, police believed it. She claimed the football star picked her up and carried her into an elevator, took her downstairs, pulled down her pants, and raped her at school. Why Banks's attorneys counseled him to plead guilty and take a deal I have no idea. The obvious question was why did no one see him snatch and carry her off at school and why didn't she scream?
The L.A. Times reports further that "according to the private investigator and Banks," Gibson said she feared telling prosecutors the truth because of the money involved. ABC confirms that Gibson's family benefited from her allegations against Banks, and apparently she and Banks did not even have intercourse.
"Gibson said that they were just playing around, being curious about sexuality, and that the adults got involved and blew it all out of proportion," according to legal documents. "She said the adults 'put stuff in [her] head.'"[...]The problem was that Gibson did not want to tell prosecutors the truth because she feared she would lose the $1.5 million she and her family won in a civil suit against Long Beach schools after the incident.I think that once that money came into the picture, Banks didn't have a chance until now.
Gibson was young then. Perhaps she did not understand the consequences of her actions, but her confusion does not excuse her from telling such a terrible lie and sticking to that lie for ten years. The only good thing here is that she's telling the truth about Banks now.
The adults who pressured her to keep up that lie should be held accountable to some court somewhere. At the very least, the Gibson family owes Brian Banks a couple of million dollars.
Read more at ABC News, at the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, and at the L.A. Times.