60 Minutes: Blind-Sided
Brian Banks was once a star high school linebacker. He was being recruited for college ball and looking forward to a future in the NFL. But suddenly, everything changed. From CBS Sports, James Brown contributed this story to 60 Minutes.
60 Minutes: Brian Banks Prison Sentence
Banks served several years in prison for kidnapping and attacking a female classmate. He pled no contest to the charges, but now everyone knows that Brian Banks was innocent.
So what really happened? Brian Banks attended the Seattle Seahawks training camp in 2012, standing out from the other candidates because he had been out of the game for a decade.
60 Minutes: Brian Banks USC
Banks was proud for the chance to try out for the team, a decade after he had been scouted in high school. USC coach Pete Carroll even offered Banks a spot on the team, and had a verbal agreement with the player.
But one day at school with his classmate Wanetta Gibson, his life changed forever. According to Brian, they kissed and touched, but there was no intercourse, and not even an argument between the two after their friendly encounter.
60 Minutes: Brian Banks Defense
Hours later, Brian found himself in jail, charged with kidnapping and forcible intercourse. He was expelled from school, kicked off the team, and watched his future change in an instant.
Banks wanted to fight for his innocence, and his mother Leomia Myers sold her house to pay for his defense lawyer. DNA in the case came back negative, but Banks could not make bail and spent a year behind bars.
60 Minutes: Brian Banks No Contest
His defense lawyer was concerned that Banks would not get a fair trial, and she convinced him to plead no contest to the charges against him.
That meant a lighter prison sentence, five years instead of 41 years. Then he faced a civil judgement from Gibson, who sued the school for its lax security that supposedly led to the incident.
60 Minutes: Brian Banks Facebook
At age 22, Banks was released from prison. But at home, he had electronic monitoring and was marked for life as a convicted felon and a permanent spot on the offenders list.
But in 2012, he got a surprising friend request on Facebook, from accuser Wanetta Gibson. Rather than accepting her request, he asked her why she wanted to be his friend.
60 Minutes: Brian Banks & Wanetta Gibson
Gibson said her interest was in putting the past behind her and reconnecting as friends. Understandably, Brian did not know what to do. But he saw an opportunity, and worked with a private investigator to set up hidden cameras for a meeting with Wanetta.
Brian asked Wanetta to help him clear his name. She seemed agreeable to helping him out, but was reluctant to have to return the money she was awarded in a civil lawsuit.
60 Minutes: California Innocence Project
In a second videotaped meeting, a private investigator got Wanetta to admit that Banks did not commit any of the acts he was accused of. He said at that point that he had nothing else to talk about with Wanetta.
Next, Brian turned to the California Innocence Project, armed with his taped confession. The new evidence in the case convinced prosecutors to support his exoneration.
60 Minutes: Brian Banks Ankle Bracelet
Finally, the page turned on Brian’s long nightmare, and he and his mother could move forward and be free from this past.
The defense team celebrated the news outside the courtroom, and a district attorney explained that they did not believe he committed the crimes he had been accused of. Banks then headed home to cut off his ankle bracelet, a moment commemorated on video
60 Minutes: Wanetta Gibson Lawsuit
Wanetta Gibson declined to speak with 60 Minutes, and of course has not returned any money won in her lawsuit. The school district has yet to move to reclaim what it paid out.
Banks said that he is not interested in seeing Gibson prosecuted, because he only wanted to focus on his own future success, and heading back out on the football field.
60 Minutes: Seattle Seahawks Camp
After being exonerated, Banks got a call from Coach Carroll. The college coach who had recruited him in high school was now with the Seattle Seahawks, and he invited Brian to try out for the team.
Though all involved knew things had changed, Carroll was glad to give Brian his chance to try out. There was a lot for Banks to catch up on, and he had the chance to try out for half a dozen NFL teams, though he did not make the cut on any of them.
60 Minutes: Las Vegas Locos UFL
Despite that setback, he did find a spot on the Las Vegas Locos, in the startup United Football League. For his part, Banks is happy to be back in the game and doing what he loves.
The UFL closed its doors in October, and Banks was never paid. But he still enjoyed his spot on the field. He would love to pursue a spot in the NFL, and is working to earn a spot in the coming season.
But Banks said he feels that no matter what happens, he is already a winner.