Brian Keith Banks (born July 24, 1985) is an American football linebacker and currently a free agent after being released by the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL). Banks signed with the Atlanta Falcons on April 3, 2013 and was released in the final round of roster cuts on August 30, 2013. . …But no happy ending where he makes the NFL: Banks played in at least one NFL exhibition game for the Falcons in 2013 at age 28, but was cut just before the regular season began.
Banks was a standout high school football star at Polytechnic High School (Poly) in Long Beach, California, and in 2002 had verbally committed to play for USC. After being falsely accused of rape by a classmate, he spent more than five years in prison, but had his conviction overturned in 2012 after his accuser was secretly recorded admitting she had fabricated the story. …
In the summer of 2002, Banks was arrested and charged after classmate Wanetta Gibson said that he dragged her into In the summer of 2002, Banks was arrested and charged after classmate Wanetta Gibson said that he dragged her into a stairway at Polytechnic High School (Poly) and raped her. Prosecutors offered him a plea deal—plead guilty and face at most 18 months in prison, or go to trial and risk a sentence of 41 years to life in prison if convicted. Years later, Banks said that his lawyer advised him to take the plea deal, saying, "When you go into that courtroom, the jury is going to see a big black teenager and you're automatically going to be assumed guilty." A horrified Banks wanted to talk to his mother, but was told he had 10 minutes to decide whether to take the deal. Banks ultimately pleaded no contest to forcible rape and was sentenced to six years in prison and five years of probation. He also had to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Wanetta Gibson and her mother Wanda Rhodes sued the Long Beach Unified School District, claiming the Poly campus was not a safe environment, and won a $1.5 million settlement. In March 2011, Gibson contacted Banks on Facebook, met with him, and admitted that she had fabricated the story. Banks secretly recorded Gibson's confession, but she refused to tell prosecutors that she had lied so she wouldn't have to return the money she and her family had won in court. Nevertheless, with Gibson's taped admission and help from California Innocence Project attorneys, Los Angeles County prosecutors overturned Banks' conviction on May 24, 2012.
On April 12, 2013, the Long Beach Unified School District announced it was suing Wanetta Gibson for $2 million in an effort to recoup the $1.5 million she received, along with attorney's fees and punitive damages. On June 14, 2013, the school district won a $2.6 million judgment against Gibson, which includes the $750,000 settlement initially paid to her along with attorney's fees, interest, and $1 million in punitive damages.