Brian Banks on Wrongful Conviction and Life After Exoneration

Football star Brian Banks spent five years in prison and another five years on probation after being falsely accused of rape—but he doesn’t want his story to diminish survivors’ stories.
“2002, I was 16 years old. I was 11th in a nation as a linebacker playing for Long Beach Poly High School—very notorious school for football. I had verbally committed to USC on a full scholarship,” he explained. “I chose to go to a known make-out spot with this girl that I’ve known for some years, and [at] this make-out spot, we kiss, we touch, we make out, but by the end of the day, I was being arrested and accused of sexual assault and kidnapping. And by the time they figured out that that didn’t happen, 10 years of my life has been lost.”
Banks is the subject of a film that sheds light on his experience being falsely accused of rape. He was exonerated in 2012 with the help of the California Innocence Project after his accuser was recorded on a hidden camera admitting she lied about the rape accusation. Though he himself was a victim of a false accusation, he doesn’t want to take credit away from sexual assault survivors telling their stories.
“Well the truth is, sexual assault occurs more than someone is being wrongfully convicted of it,” he said. “And that’s the sad thing about it, is that this—these types of crimes do happen and they happen too often.”
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center estimates that between two percent and ten percent of sexual assault reports are falsified and the majority of sexual assault crimes are never reported.
After his exoneration, Banks pursued his football dreams again and was signed by the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. Today, he’s focused on helping other wrongfully convicted people walk free.