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June 10, 2013

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Brian Banks smiling
Brian Banks, 2013
Credit
Sameer Abdel-Khalek

Brian Banks

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Earlier this year football linebacker Brian Banks was signed by the Atlanta Falcons less than a year after his conviction of rape was overturned by Los Angeles County prosecutors.  His story began when he was in high school. He was accused of raping another student during summer school. A year into his legal fight, he was in adult court facing 41 years to life in prison. He was 17 at the time.

On the day of jury selection, his lawyer offered a final deal from the prosecutor saying he would likely face an all white jury. His lawyer said that if Brian took the deal he would likely serve three years. “I asked to speak to my mom and my dad, they were sitting right in the other room, in the courtroom, waiting for me to walk in, and my lawyer denied me that right, said that it was my decision to make, and I couldn’t speak to them, and I had ten minutes to make the decision.”

Brian ended up serving five years in prison. When he was released, he went on parole, and registered as a sex offender. He enrolled at Long Beach City College and played on the football team.

Soon, though, the law changed, and as a sex offender on parole, Brian was required to wear a GPS monitoring device on his ankle. “In a lot of ways, that was like being incarcerated all over again. So as quick as the idea of playing football came again, I had to let it go.”
One day, Brian was at his computer searching for jobs. He went on Facebook and found a friend request from the same woman who had accused him of rape. “And I just froze. And I got on my knees and prayed to God, and I said ‘If this is really her, and there is a possibility that I can get down to the truth, I am asking you to help me play my cards right.’”

Soon a meeting with the woman was arranged. Brian attended with a private investigator. That meeting was recorded, and his accuser recanted her story.

After his exoneration, Brian tried out with a number of professional teams, signing earlier this year with the Atlanta Falcons.

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