When Brian Banks was 16, he was a star middle linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School and was attracting interest from colleges such as the University of Southern California (USC), Ohio State University and the University of Michigan. He had reportedly agreed verbally to a full scholarship at USC. In 2002, a teenage girl he knew since childhood claimed he had raped her. He was arrested and, on his legal counsel’s advice, he leaded “no contest” to the charge of rape and an enhancement of kidnapping. He did so to avoid a possible life sentence in prison if tried by a jury.
Brian Bank’s accuser recently recanted her story.
Bank’s story is drew the attention of the California Innocence Project, which took up his case. Justin Brooks, head of the program at California Western University in San Diego, said this was the first case he championed for someone already who had already been released from prison. He felt it was not too late to right a wrong for Banks and turn his life around.
The Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Brentford Ferreira said his office conceded the case should be dismissed. The Superior Court Judge Mark C. Kim concurred and quickly announced the case was over.
Outside the courtroom, with tears streaming from his eyes, Banks said, “I couldn’t ask for more today. But there is always the question of why did it have to happen in the first place? Why wasn’t I heard with the truth of what happened when I was 16?”
Now 26 years old, Banks said he is ready to move forward and is trying not to be angry.
Banks promised to pursue his dream of playing professional football. At the press conference that followed the court hearing, Justin Brooks appealed to NFL teams to give Banks a chance. He said Banks has been training six days a week to get in shape for the career he wants. “He has the speed and the strength. He certainly has the heart,” Brooks said.