LONG BEACH — A former high school football star whose rape conviction was thrown out this week plans to sue the state, but will not sue the woman who recanted the rape and kidnapping charge she made a decade ago.
An attorney for Brian Banks, 26, said in news reports that his client will seek $100 from the state for every day he was wrongfully incarcerated.
Banks walked free on Thursday in a dramatic, 30-second hearing in Long Beach Superior Court during which Judge Mark Kim vacated his conviction. Banks spent five years and two months in prison after pleading no contest to forcible rape in 2003.
His accuser, Wanetta Gibson, was a high school sophomore when she accused Banks, then 17, of raping her in 2002 on the campus of Poly High School.
She received a $1.5 million payment from a civil suit brought by her mother against the Long Beach Unified School District for failing to provide a safe environment.
School district officials wouldn't comment this week on whether they would seek repayment of the settlement.
I'm sure Wanetta and her mom socked the $1.5 million away in T-bills for a rainy day, so there shouldn't be any trouble recovering the fraudulently obtained funds.
Prosecutors have said they have no plans to charge Gibson, now 24, with making false accusations, saying it would be a tough case to prove. She could not be reached for comment.
Banks' attorney with the California Innocence Project, Justin Brooks, could not be reached for comment Saturday.
Brooks told the Los Angeles Times that Banks is entitled to $100 a day for every day he was falsely imprisoned under State Law 4900.
If successful, the lawsuit against the state of California would net Banks about $188,500.
Banks, a football standout at Poly, had been heavily recruited by colleges, and had a verbal offer for a scholarship at the University of Southern California.
He told police he had a consensual sexual encounter with Gibson, a classmate — but always maintained that he did not rape her. He pleaded no contest to forcible rape charges to avoid a possible 41-year-to-life sentence in prison if convicted on all the charges, he said.
After accepting a plea deal, he served more than five years in prison, and was required to register for life as a sex offender.
Gibson recanted her story a little more than a year ago after "friending" Banks on Facebook and asked to meet with him.
"I got on my knees and prayed," Banks said this week after his court hearing. "I asked God to help me play my cards right."
Gibson refused to tell prosecutors the truth, for fear of having to repay the settlement. But attorneys with the California Innocence Project were eventually able to record her recanting the accusation. [He wore a wire when talking to Wanetta.]
On Thursday, prosecutors conceded the matter, and the judge immediately vacated Banks' conviction. His record is now wiped clean.
Banks is training six days a week at a gym in Long Beach, and hopes to revive his chance for a football career.
Long Beach Poly sends about one player per year to the NFL (as many as any high school in the country), so his hopes for a pro career hadn't been just the usual teenage pipedream.