Multiply Justice

Recapturing a lost dream

Greg Mellen writes for the LA Daily News:

LONG BEACH – Ten years ago, a 17-year-old boy sat in the Long Beach Superior Courthouse and was asked to make an impossible decision.

Admit to rape, sodomy and kidnapping that he didn’t commit, waive his constitutional rights and go to prison for up to six years. To toss out a football scholarship and possibly an NFL career and register for a life of ignominy as a sex offender. Or risk everything and go to trial with the chance of spending 41 years in jail, a lifetime in essence.

That was the choice Brian Banks was given on July 8, 2003 while a jury was being assembled to hear his case and determine his fate.

Attorneys say it was generous effort, except, of course, if you are innocent.

What do you do when you’re 17, terrified, bewildered and pressured?

You take the deal, of course, even though you’re innocent.

This is the story of Banks, of his decision, of the plea system that put him in such an untenable situation, of the struggle to undo a plea bargain and, ultimately, of something approaching redemption.

These days are the stuff of dreams for Banks. Fresh off receiving an offer to attend a minicamp with the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks, several job possibilities and an appearance on the “Tonight Show,” Banks is flying high.

The story of the former Long Beach football star who walked out of a Long Beach courthouse two weeks ago exonerated from a 10-year-old false rape charge has gone global. So has his attempt to recapture a lost dream to play in the NFL.

Read the article here.

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