Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

News

Man Wrongfully Convicted Of Rape To Star In 'Serial'-Esque Reality Show

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

A former Long Beach high school student who had his dreams crushed when he was falsely accused and convicted of rape will be the star of a new reality show that looks into wrongful convictions.

The show from Peacock Productions plays off the Serial podcast's success and will feature Banks looking into cases where there may have been a possible wrongful conviction. Peacock Productions President Sharon Scott said that Banks was chosen for his insight into the criminal justice system, City News Service reports. "He spent a decade fighting to clear his name and will draw on that experience during his investigation of one captivating case that has all the drama of a scripted series—except it is real."

Banks was once a student at Polytechnic High School in Long Beach. He was an aspiring NFL player who had already agreed to play for USC when his life dramatically changed. In 2002 when Banks was just 16, a classmate named Wanetta Gibson accused Banks of kidnapping and raping her. Banks had maintained that Gibson and he had a brief, consensual makeout session in a hallway of the school, but that was it. Though the case only came down to her word against his and there was no DNA evidence, Banks was convinced by his lawyer to take a plea deal. He told TODAY that his lawyer told him, "You can go into that courtroom in front of a jury. You're a big black teenager, they're going to automatically assume you're guilty and you'll be facing 41 years to life. What do you want to do?"

Banks ended up spending five years in prison and Gibson received a $1.5 million settlement from the school.

Support for LAist comes from

Years later, Gibson sent a Facebook request to Banks. He asked her to meet him at a private detective's office to discuss what happened. The detective recorded her saying that Banks never raped her. She also expressed, in the video, concern that she would have to pay back the money. Her fears were not unfounded: she was ordered to pay back the $1.5 million, plus an additional $1.1 million in fees.

Banks was finally exonerated in 2012 at age 26 and now works with the California Innocence Project. He briefly played with the Atlanta Falcons for four pre-season games.

Banks' life is also being turned into a film, The Brian Banks Story. Lee Daniels (The Butler, Precious) is set to direct.