Facebook has been a water cooler topic of late….the price of their stock, whether to let your kids join, how to un-tag that less than flattering picture of yourself. But for Brian Banks, high school football star turned convicted rapist, Facebook has led to the exoneration of a rape conviction, as well as a tryout with the Seattle Seahawks.
Banks was a nationally ranked linebacker from Long Beach Polytechnic High School, when, at the age of 16, he was falsely accused of rape and kidnapping. His mother sold her house, car, and borrowed money from friends to help with the defense of her innocent son. When his lawyer suggested he take a plea deal instead of running the risk of facing life in prison, Banks made a rash decision without the assistance of his parents. He was sentenced and sent to prison.
After six years of prison time and life on parole as a convicted rapist (wearing a GPS, not allowed within 2000 feet of schools, not leaving the county or state without permission), Banks was searching online one day, trying in vain to find a job as a convicted felon. Feeling frustrated, he did his usual check of Facebook. A friend request was pending….from none other than the girl that accused him of rape years ago.
Praying to God that reconnecting with this girl would lead to the truth being heard, Banks agreed to meet her (a meeting which was recorded at a private investigator’s office). After recording her admission of making up the whole story, Banks got in touch with Kim Hernandez of the California Innocence Project. On May 24, 2012, the same judge that sent Brian Banks to prison for rape, exonerated him and cleared his name.
Soon after, Banks was contacted by Pete Carroll – the college football coach that showed interest in him as a teenager. Only this time, Coach Carroll is working in the NFL, not USC, and wanted to give Banks a second chance. On June 7th, Brian Banks worked out with Pete Carroll’s team, the Seattle Seahawks. Although not in the physical shape of the other players, his showing was still impressive enough to earn an invitation to the Seahawks minicamp next week.
In an interview on June 6th with Jay Leno, Brian Banks expressed not bitterness, but gratitude for the second chance he has been given. While it would be easy to dwell on the years lost, he instead chooses to focus on the opportunities ahead, including what only a few months ago may have seemed impossible….a chance in the NFL.