A woman who claimed that she was raped by a star high school football player -- sending him to prison for five years -- is not likely to be charged with making a false accusation, prosecutors said.
In the summer of 2002, Wanette Gibson accused Brian Banks, now 26, of rape. The two were students at Long Beach Poly High School. Rather than take the he-said-she-said case to trial and risk a 41-years-to-life prison sentence, Banks pleaded no contest to forcible rape, spent five years in prison and, after his release, was forced to register as a sex offender and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
"It's been a struggle, it's been a nightmare," he said. "It's more than I can describe, the things that I've been through."
Banks was considered a top college football prospect. A 6-foot-4, 225-pound middle linebacker, he had been courted by USC, UCLA and other football powerhouses, he said.
He asked the California Innocence Project for help, but with no new evidence there was little the organization could do.
Then, last year, the woman sent him a friend request on Facebook.
She felt guilty that he had lost out on going to college and playing football and had "a desire to make amends," Banks' attorneys said in court documents.
When Banks heard from her, he recalled, "I stopped what I was doing and got down on my knees and prayed to God to help me play my cards right."
She agreed to meet him and a private investigator. Their conversation was taped and Gibson said, "No, he did not rape me."
That admission set off an extraordinary chain of events that culminated Thursday morning. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge dismissed Banks' conviction, ending 10 years of turmoil in a hearing that lasted less than a minute.
According to Banks and his private investigator, Gibson refused to tell prosecutors that she had lied, so that she wouldn't have to return the $1.5-million settlement her family won in court after suing the Long Beach Unified School District.
Her taped admission was enough for the California Innocence Project to take his case -– and for the judge to dismiss the conviction.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Brentford Ferreira said prosecutors had no plans to charge Gibson, saying it would be a difficult case to prove.