Former USC Football Recruit Who Served Five Years For Rape Exonerated Because Accuser Admits Attack Never Happened

This one's complicated, so try to follow along: Brian Banks was once a star high school linebacker who had committed verbally to attend USC. Instead, he went to prison for more than five years because he pleaded no contest to having raped a childhood friend. He offered the plea on the advice of his lawyer. That was 10 years ago, when Banks was 16.

Sometime after he was released from prison, Banks got a Facebook friend request from his accuser, a woman named Wanetta Gibson. They decided to meet up. And when they did, Gibson admitted to him she had made the whole thing up—the kidnapping, the rape, everything. She even said she'd help exonerate him.

Still with us? OK, good. Because here's where the story really gets bizarre: Gibson chose not to help Banks because she was afraid she'd have to return the $1.5 million she received after her mother had filed a civil suit on her behalf. The "attack" had happened on the campus of Long Beach (Calif.) Polytechnic High School, and Gibson's mother had sued the school district.

After their first encounter, Banks arranged a second meeting with Gibson, and this one was videotaped. This time, Gibson was observed telling Banks she was worried she'd have to give the money back; an investigator who was also present testified that Gibson had made a remark to that effect. A judge today decided to throw out the rape charge against Banks, even though no one can give him back the five-plus years he spent in prison. Outside the courthouse, Banks wore a sweatshirt that read "Innocent" and wept as he stood with members of his family. It is not known if Gibson will be prosecuted, or if she'll have to return the money.

[Associated Press; h/t to K]