PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Teri Stoddard
Email: tstoddard@saveservices.org
Telephone: 301-801-0608

Following Brian Banks Release, SAVE Raps Media for Allowing Rape ‘Hysteria’

WASHINGTON / June 14, 2012 – Following the release of Brian Banks after 5 years in jail on a false rape conviction, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is calling on the media to report rape allegations in a responsible and ethical manner. Media accounts of alleged rape cases often highlight the accusation but fail to report exonerations in the same manner, SAVE says.

Brian Banks was a 16-year-old football star with a full scholarship to the University of Southern California when he was accused of rape by Wanetta Gibson. Fearing a life sentence, Banks agreed to a plea bargain, even though there was no medical evidence or witnesses to support her claim.

Banks spent over five years in jail. In the meantime, Gibson received a $750,000 settlement from the school for not defending her from the alleged assault. Recently Gibson admitted during a taped interview that her accusation was fabricated. On May 24, 2012 Banks was exonerated.

SAVE is calling on the media to assure responsible reporting of all allegations of sexual assault and to stem “rape hysteria.” Common media biases include referring to the accuser as a “victim,” omitting the word “alleged,” not affording equal coverage to the defendant’s account, and failing to note subsequent recantations. Prosecutor decisions to not pursue the case, acquittals, and exonerations are often not reported or not given as prominent coverage as the initial accusation, SAVE notes.

The Banks incident occurred just as the National Registry of Exonerations released a ground-breaking study that details how over 200 men around the country have been falsely convicted on charges of rape, only to be exonerated after years behind bars. Some had been handed life sentences for a crime they didn’t commit.

The exonerations occurred after the “victim” stepped forward to reveal the crime had been fabricated, or after DNA testing proved another person to be the perpetrator: http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Documents/exonerations_us_1989_2012_full_report.pdf

“Innocent until proven guilty is a concept seemingly forgotten by the media” says Philip W. Cook, SAVE spokesman. “False allegations ruin lives, some of which are never repaired. The media has a responsibility to be factual and balanced, not incendiary.”

June is False Allegations Awareness Month. According to a national telephone survey, one in 10 persons has been falsely accused of abuse: http://www.saveservices.org/falsely-accused/survey/

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner abuse: www.saveservices.org