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School wants its $750,000 back from Brian Banks' accuser

April 12, 2013|By Ruben Vives
  • Brian Banks, who was wrongly convicted of raping a classmate a decade ago, had his conviction dismissed and has now signed a contract with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
Brian Banks, who was wrongly convicted of raping a classmate a decade ago,… (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles…)

The Long Beach Unified School District is suing a former female student who admitted to falsely accusing ex-Poly High football star Brian Banks of rape in 2002.

The lawsuit against former Polytechnic High School student Wanetta Gibson was filed last November, just months after Banks' rape conviction was dismissed. 

Banks had spent five years in prison and another five on parole. He recently signed an NFL contract with the Atlanta Falcons. 

The school district said it is trying to recoup about $1.9 million that was spent defending itself after Gibson sued the district and collected a $750,000 settlement.

The district also said it wants to recoup attorney fees as well as $1 million in punitive damages, according to the lawsuit.

“Our school district takes seriously its obligation to be a good steward of public funds,” said Chris Eftychiou, spokesman for the district. “It’s important to convey that our school board will take action to recoup any losses if someone attempts to defraud our schools of much-needed resources.”

On July 8, 2002, Gibson accused Banks of raping her inside a building of the school’s campus. At the time, the 17-year-old linebacker was drawing attention from several universities, including USC and UCLA.

Banks insisted the sexual contact with Gibson was consensual, but his lawyers advised him to plead no contest rather than risk being sentenced to 41 years to life in prison. Banks followed his attorney’s advice and spent five years in prison and another five on parole.

Then in February 2011, Gibson reached out to him on Facebook. She allegedly admitted to lying about the alleged rape in a conversation that was taped by Banks and a private investigator.

The tape ultimately led to Banks being exonerated in May 2012.

School district officials say they have urged the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office to pursue criminal charges against Gibson.  

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Twitter: @latvives

ruben.vives@latimes.com

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