Brian Banks collapsed in sobs on the counsel table during a court hearing where a prosecutor quickly conceded the decade-old case and moved for the dismissal.
In the summer of 2002, Banks' future looked bright: He was a 17-year-old high school football star being heavily recruited by a number of colleges. But in a single day that changed with the accusations of kidnapping and rape by a female student.
"We went into an area on campus that is known as a makeout spot, we kissed, we groped we touched, but we never had sex. We ended things on a good note. I went back to class, by the end of the day I was in custody," Banks, now 26, told KABC in Los Angeles.
Banks faced a maximum sentence of life in prison, and instead of risking the possibility of being behind bars for life, his attorney suggested he plead guilty.
"She told me I was a big black teenager and no jury would believe anything I said," Banks told KABC.
He maintained there was no rape and their sexual contact was consensual, but his lawyer urged him to plead no contest rather than risk a sentence of 41 years to life in prison if convicted. He followed the advice and went to prison for six years, shattering his dreams of gridiron glory.
Lawyers for the California Innocence Project were prepared Thursday to argue he should be exonerated.
In a strange turn of events, the woman who accused him a decade ago friended him on Facebook when he got out of prison. Wanetta Gibson explained she wanted to "let bygones be bygones."
According to documents in the case, she met with Banks and said she had lied; there had been was no kidnap and no rape and she offered to help him clear his record.
But she subsequently refused to repeat the story to prosecutors because she feared she would have to return a $1.5 million payment from a civil suit brought by her mother against Long Beach schools.
She was quoted as telling Banks: "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."
Justin Brooks, a lawyer who heads the innocence project, said that Banks has remained on probation, under electronic monitoring, has had to register as a sex offender and has had trouble getting a job.
He said Banks continues to train for what he hopes will be a future chance at a football career.
First of all, I think his Lawyer was a loser. He had a weak a$$ lawyer who helped ruin his career cos if the Lawyer had had his interest at heart, he wouldn't have taken that deal. He would have let the case go to trial, Banks would probably have won and his life would have been different now.
If the girl told a lie just for monetary gain, I hope Karma bites her in the a$$ cos she RUINED the career Banks would have had. IJS.