Criminal Justice

Ex-High School Football Star Is Exonerated of Rape After Accuser Friended Him on Facebook

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A former high school football star who spent five years in prison has been exonerated after the former classmate who once accused him of rape friended him on Facebook and later recanted.

A California judge dismissed the conviction of 26-year-old Brian Banks on Thursday, report the Los Angeles Times blog L.A. Now, the Associated Press and KABC. Prosecutors did not oppose reversal.

Banks had always maintained his high school encounter with classmate Wanetta Gibson was consensual, but he pleaded no contest to avoid a possible life sentence, the stories say. After his release from prison, Gibson asked to friend Banks, and then agreed to meet with him and a private investigator.

During two meetings, Gibson admitted she lied. Her recantation was secretly taped. She also admitted she did not want to return a $1.5 million payment obtained through a civil suit against the school district in Long Beach, Calif.

According to KABC, defense lawyers offered this quote from Gibson: “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.”

Gibson never repeated the recantation to prosecutors, nor did she attend Banks’ hearing on Thursday. It’s unclear if she will be allowed to keep the money from the suit, according to AP and KABC.

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