After 10 Years, Football Star Brian Banks Cleared of Rape Charge

The 26-year-old former high school linebacker says he will resume the pursuit of his NFL dreams. 

Posted: 05/25/2012 11:17 AM EDT

Admissions made over social networking websites usually get most people into a world of trouble. But for Brian Banks, a friend request from the now grown woman who accused him of rape 10 years earlier, it has meant a world of good.

Banks, 26, was a star middle linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School and had verbally accepted an offer to attend the University of Southern California when a female classmate accused him of rape following a rendezvous on school grounds.

"We went into an area on campus that is known as a make-out 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 told local news station KABC.

After his arrest, Banks says that despite his claims of innocence, his attorney encouraged him to make a plea deal.

"She told me I was a big Black teenager and no jury would believe anything I said," he said.

The former high school football star was convicted of raping classmate Wanetta Gibson in 2002, and served five years in prison and five years probation for the rape conviction.

Meanwhile, his accuser sued the school district claiming lack of safety on campus and was awarded $1.5 million in damages.

Gibson contacted Banks over Facebook after he was released from prison in the form of a friend request. Banks says he accepted reluctantly, and the two arranged a face-to-face meeting where Gibson admitted to lying about the rape — and Banks secretly taped Gibson’s confession.

With the possibility of having to return the $1.5 million, Gibson did not want to admit the truth to prosecutors, who accepted the tapes. It is still unclear whether Gibson will have to return the money or whether Banks, who has been aided by his defense team from the California Innocence Project, will file a lawsuit against her. With the possibility of having to return the $1.5 million, Gibson did not want to admit the truth to prosecutors.

"My only dream in the world was to just be free and to have the same opportunity as everybody here," Banks told reporters after his hearing Thursday in Long Beach, California.

"This is the first step in reinventing my life," Banks said, according to the Associated Press.

Cleared of all charges, Banks now plans to resume his goal of earning a spot in the NFL.

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(Photo: AP Photo/Nick Ut)