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Personal Blogs: Lex Communis
After a decade, it was the judgment that Brian Banks and his lawyers from the California Innocence Project fought for: Case dismissed.
"My only dream in the world was to just be free and to have the same opportunity as everybody here," said Banks following Thursday's hearing.
At age 16, Brian Banks had been a popular student at Polytechnic High in Long Beach, an athlete being scouted by eight colleges.
He verbally accepted an offer to attend the University of Southern California on a four-year scholarship when a serious accusation came from a fellow classmate and childhood friend.
Wanetta Gibson, then 15 years old, claimed Banks had raped her at school. With a case of he said she said, Banks did as his lawyers urged -- to plead no contest and accept a short prison term rather than risk a long one.
Gibson collected $1.5 million after suing the school. Banks spent five years in prison and five years on parole, finally reaching out to California Project Innocence. But the case turned when the alleged victim contacted him through Facebook asking to be his friend.
"I got on my knees and I prayed to God. If there is an opportunity for me to find some way of proving my innocence by communicating with this person, I asked God to help me play my cards right," said Banks.
Then came a face-to-face meeting. Gibson admitted that she lied and was willing to help Banks clear his name, according to court records. But there was just one problem she had -- would she have to pay back the $1.5 million? It was a fear that made Gibson weary of telling her story to prosecutors.
But according to defense attorneys, Gibson admitted she was worried about having to pay back the money during a second meeting with Banks that was secretly recorded. Defense attorneys quoted Gibson as saying, "'I will go through with helping you but it's like at the same time all that money they gave us, I mean gave me, I don't want to have to pay it back.'"
Gibson did not attend the hearing on Thursday. It remained unclear if she would have to pay back the money. Nonetheless, Gibson's admission paved the way for Banks' exoneration.
What an incredibly wicked woman.