Promising Black Football Star Wrongfully Imprisoned for Rape In 2002 Is Disgusted by the Sympathetic Ruling for Guilty White Standford Athlete

Football star Brian Banks was wrongfully imprisoned for rape in 2002 and later exonerated. Photo by Nick Ut/AP Photo
Football star Brian Banks was wrongfully imprisoned for rape in 2002 and later exonerated. Photo by Nick Ut/AP Photo

Fourteen years ago, the dreams of a promising African-American football player were shattered as he sat in a courtroom patiently awaiting a sentence for a crime he didn’t commit.

Long Beach Polytechnic High School football star Brian Banks was convicted of rape back in 2002. Just 16 years old at the time, Banks was charged as an adult and received a sentence of six years behind bars. His accuser finally came forward in 2012 to recant her allegations, and the football star was exonerated for the crime.

According to the New York Daily News, Banks had served five years and two months of his sentence by that time. He also served an additional five years of parole.

Now a free man working for the NFL, Banks has been sure to follow the high-profile rape case involving Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. The college athlete was convicted on three felony counts stemming from a 2015 sexual assault on an unconscious, inebriated female, the New York Daily News reports.

Banks, along with the rest of the country, was appalled when Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in the county jail Friday, for fear that prison time would have a “severe impact” on the young athlete.
“I think he will not be a danger to others,” Persky said.

According to the New York Daily News, Turner could have his sentence reduced to three months if he stays on his best behavior. He’ll have to register as a sex offender upon his release, however.

Of course, Turner’s light sentence and sympathetic treatment from the judge is a stark contrast from what Banks experienced all those years ago. Banks argues that no one ever took into consideration the effect prison would have on him, a young, Black, innocent man. He also asserts that privilege is behind Judge Persky’s mercy on the 20-year-old Stanford swimmer.

“I would say it’s a case of privilege,” Banks told the New York Daily News. “It seems like the judge based his decision on lifestyle. He’s lived such a good life and has never experienced anything serious in his life that would prepare him for prison. He was sheltered so much he wouldn’t be able to survive prison. What about the kid who has nothing, he struggles to eat, struggles to get a fair education? What about the kid who has no choice who he is born to and has drug-addicted parents or a non-parent household? Where is the consideration for them when they commit a crime?”

The football star faced 41 years to life for the rape conviction and turned down a number of plea deals for 25, 18 or nine years behind bars before the judge finally sentenced him to six years in 2002, the publication reports.

“Do I plead to a crime that I did not commit and receive a small sentence or do I roll the dice, risk my entire life behind bars for a crime I didn’t commit?” Banks said. “I realized that day, regardless of whatever my decision was, neither one of them was going home an innocent man.”

Banks also recalled that on the day of jury selection, he was told that he probably wouldn’t get a trial because “I was a big, Black teenager and the jury would be an all-white jury and they would automatically assume me as guilty.”

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SOURCE: Atlanta Black Star – Tanasia Kenney

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