THE BRIAN BANKS CASE: 1.5 MILLION REASONS TO LIE

1.5 million dollars. Is that enough money for you to lie? You might say “no” and that’s good for you. It’s great that you have the restraint and a strong moral compass. But that isn’t the important question. Is that enough money for someone else to lie? Brian Banks knows the answer to this question. And he paid dearly for the answer.

Brian Banks was one of the top football prospects in America. He was ranked #5 in the nation for linebackers as a sophomore in high school. He was offered a scholarship from Pete Carroll, who was the head coach at USC at the time. But his football career came to a halting stop on July 8, 2002. Banks needed to take summer school classes. And one day at school, he got a hall pass, went out to the hallway and he ran into Jane Doe* who was also out in the hallway on a hallway pass. Jane Doe quickly communicated her interests to the football star. The two of them went to a known make-out location in the school, the bottom of a stairwell that was relatively secluded. They started kissing and heavy petting, but then a teacher approached the stairwell, and that startled Banks. He stopped. He didn’t want to get in trouble. Banks whispered, “we got to stop, maybe later”. Jane Doe’s response: Anger. Which to be fair is understandable. It’s frustrating being rejected. But what’s not understandable is what happened next.

Later that day Brian Banks is arrested. He’s accused of rape. Jane Doe sues the school for purportedly being negligent in allowing this to happen in the school. And she wins a $1.5 million settlement. Brian Banks is sentenced to 5 years in prison. But all the while, this is something Brian Banks knew nothing about at the time, but there was a rape kit DNA test conducted on Jane Doe. And Brian Banks’s DNA was excluded as being a contributor. However, there was male DNA present. But it was not Brian Banks's. Which tells us that in all likelihood Jane Doe was sexually active. But not with Brian Banks. 

The frustrating thing about our criminal justice system is it’s almost impossible to overturn a conviction. Even when you have proof. And one of the most startling things about this case is that Jane Doe confessed on tape, that she had made it up. Brian Banks had spent 5 years of hard time behind bars. He had spent 5 years on probation, struggling to find and keep jobs while he was labeled a sex offender. In many people’s minds, the worst type of person there is. And this was all a lie.

The very bizarre thing about this case is that after Jane Doe admitted it was a lie, she wanted to be friends with Brian Banks. The exact phrase she used was that she wanted to “let bygone be bygones”. You can’t make this up. 5 years of prison followed by 5 years of struggling while being labeled a sex offender. And she appeared to not understand the gravity of the way that she had destroyed his life. I encourage you to read Brian Banks’s book or watch the movie based on his story to learn more.  

So, this all comes back to a lie. A lie that led to $1.5 million. If you are falsely accused, pay careful attention to if the person making the false accusations had a motive where they benefit from this lie. It doesn’t necessarily have to be money. Sometimes it’s revenge, sometimes it’s to avoid jail time in another case. You can read more about these motives in forthcoming articles. But one the clearest paths from motive to benefit for a lie is money. And you need to address this motive at the trial. And really attack it. You might think people would just naturally see a motive to lie and take it into consideration. But there’s been over 3,000 falsely convicted people who get convicted going off assumptions of how things work. And 61% of those people were sent to prison where lying was a contributing factor. Identify the motive to lie, and really go after it at trial. There is no other way to combat a lie. It’s extremely rare that you’ll find someone who will admit they have lied like in the Brian Banks case. And even in the Banks case, it was 10 years too late. You need to find the motive and utilize a strategy to highlight this motive at trial. If you have the resources, hire a skilled criminal defense attorney and private investigator to assist in this strategy. Lies are notoriously difficult to overcome at trial unless you have a skilled team behind you. 

*For legal reasons, I’ve changed the names for all complainants on this site to “Jane Doe” or “John Doe” respectively.