A Facebook friend request set the wheels in motion for Brian Banks to be cleared of rape 10 years after he was accused by former high school classmate Wanetta Gibson and had already spent five years in prison.
Brian Banks was a promising high school football prospect out of Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, Calif., and had a scholarship from the University of Southern California when Gibson, then 15, accused the then-17-year-old banks of raping her.
We went into an area on campus that is known as a makeout 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, now 26, told KABC in Los Angeles.
Banks faced a maximum sentence of life in prison, and instead of risking the possibility of being behind bars for life, his attorney suggested he plead guilty.
She told me I was a big black teenager and no jury would believe anything I said, Banks told KABC.
Banks got out of prison five years later and Gibson received $1.5 million from Long Beach city schools in a civil suit claiming a lack of security was partly responsible for the alleged rape.
Brian Banks was exonerated Thursday and the reason was Gibson sent a Facebook friend request to him.
Banks asked why Gibson would send such a request after accusing him of rape and ruining his life.
Gibson wrote back, I figured you and I could let bygones be bygones. I was immature then, but I'm much more mature now.
Gibson pledged to help Banks clear his name, but she was reluctant to reiterate her story to prosecutors because she didn't want to give back the $1.5 million civil judgment awarded to her.
'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 told Banks at one of their meetings, which Banks recorded, according to CBS News.
The new evidence in the case led the California Innocence Project, which defends prisoners they believe were either wrongly convicted or innocent, to take up the case of Brian Banks.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge reversed the conviction Thursday against Banks.
My only dream in the world is just to be free, Banks said after the ruling, the Los Angeles Times reported.