Brian Banks, a former standout high school football player who spent five years in prison on rape charges that turned out to be false, criticized the 6-month sentence given to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, citing “a case of privilege.”
Banks spoke to The New York Daily News this week, recounting his experience and expressing his disagreement with the sentence in the Turner case.
Banks was 16 years old in 2002 when a 15-year-old girl falsely accused him of raping her. Facing up to 41 years in jail, Banks maintained his innocence, turning down plea deals for 25, 18 and 9 years.
According to a 60 Minutes interview from 2013, Banks’ lawyer was worried that Banks – an African American who played linebacker on the football field – wouldn’t get a fair trial from a jury.
So, as CBS News reports, the lawyer, also African-American, persuaded Banks to plead “no contest” to avoid the maximum sentence of 41 years. But a judge still sentenced Banks to 6 years
The New York Daily News reports that Banks ultimately served five years and two months in prison plus five more on parole.
The L.A. Times reports that in 2012, the girl who accused Banks met with him and admitted she had fabricated the story and that he hadn’t raped her. She refused to admit the lie in court (which would force her to return the $1.5 million she and her mother had won by suing the school where she alleged the rape had happened), but Banks secretly recorded the conversation. The recording was enough to get Banks’ conviction overturned and officially clear his name.
Banks’ Comments On Turner Case
Speaking in 2016, 12 years after he was falsely accused and 4 after he was cleared of wrongdoing, Banks told The New York Daily News that “privilege” played a role in the disparity between his sentence and Turner’s.
“I would say it’s a case of privilege,” Banks told The New York Daily News. “It seems like the judge based his decision on lifestyle. He’s lived such a good life and has never experienced anything serious in his life that would prepare him for prison. He was sheltered so much he wouldn’t be able to survive prison. What about the kid who has nothing, he struggles to eat, struggles to get a fair education? What about the kid who has no choice who he is born to and has drug-addicted parents or a non-parent household? Where is the consideration for them when they commit a crime?”
The Daily News goes on to compare the two cases briefly:
Turner didn’t have a criminal history. He is white. Banks didn’t have a criminal history, either, didn’t even have a speeding ticket. He is black. He was making out on his high school campus in Long Beach, Calif., with a 15-year old girl during the summer of 2002 and by the end of the day, she accused him of rape. To this day, Banks doesn’t know why.
Banks is “surprised” the courts found a way to consider Turner’s background and that “he wouldn’t know how to deal with career criminals.”
Nobody took that into consideration for Banks. He was just 16 and he was an innocent man. “You know a man is guilty, so why aren’t we unleashing half of the punishment that was unleashed on Brian Banks when he was innocent and there was no evidence?” he said. “They gave me six years. They gave him six months.”
Banks feels the female victim in the Turner case “has been totally ignored. She has to live with her hardship and tragedy for the rest of her life.”
Turner’s Mugshot Released
In another addendum to the Turner story, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office released Turner’s official mugshot from the January 2015 incident this week. According to NBC News, media outlets had been requesting Turner’s police mugshot – which is a matter of public record under California law – for months, but to no avail.
NBC News says the sheriff’s office and Stanford University passed responsibility between them – the sheriff’s office maintained it was Stanford’s place to release any photos, while Stanford claimed its was the sheriff’s responsibility.
A freelance journalist named Diana Prichard eventually received two mugshot photos and posted them to Facebook. The first is at the top of this page, the second to the right of this section.
You can read more about the Brock Turner case here:
- Stanford freshman Brock Turner arrested after sexual assault allegations
- Brock Turner found guilty of sexual assault, sentencing in June
- Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner sentenced to 6 months in jail
- Brock Turner ‘would not be eligible’ for USA Swimming membership
- Statements from Brock Turner’s father, victim spark outrage over sentence