Contact: Teri Stoddard
No DNA, No Witnesses, No Evidence: Brian Banks Case Spotlights Need for Rape Reform
WASHINGTON/January 8, 2013 – The upcoming 60 Minutes appearance of Brian Banks will highlight flaws in the American criminal justice system, including laws pertaining to sexual assault. Brian Banks, who spent 5 years in prison on a false allegation of rape, will be featured during the January 27, 2013 broadcast of the CBS show 60 Minutes.
Brian Banks was a 16-year-old football star in Long Beach, Calif. when he was accused of rape by Wanetta Gibson. Fearing a life sentence, Banks agreed to a plea bargain, even though there was no DNA, witnesses, or other evidence to support the accusation.
Banks spent over five years in prison. After his release, Wanetta Gibson admitted during a taped interview that her accusation was fabricated. On May 24, 2012, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark C. Kim exonerated Mr. Banks.
“There are a lot of guys out there in that situation,” Justin Brooks of the California Innocence Project told CNN. The tragedy, Mr. Brooks said, was that “if we hadn’t got that recantation, Brian would have gone through this the rest of his life.”
Wrongful convictions of persons accused of sexual assault are widespread. According to a 2012 Urban Institute study, 15% of persons imprisoned on charges of sexual assault did not have a DNA match to the alleged victim (1).
According to a 2008 review of state rape laws, not a single state requires independent corroboration of a rape claim (2). Law professor Richard Klein criticizes current rape laws as “fundamentally unfair” to defendants.
“The tragedy of Brian Banks shows the presumption of innocence has been lost in sexual assault cases,” explains SAVE spokesman Howard Goldman. “Lawmakers need to act now to stop the wrongful convictions of persons falsely accused of rape.”
“The Constitution says no person should be deprived of liberty without due process of law,” explains SAVE spokesman Howard Goldman. “By deflecting the burden of proof to Mr. Banks, his due process guarantees were tragically removed.”
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a legal reform organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner violence and sexual assault: www.saveservices.org.