LONG BEACH - The Long Beach Unified School District is suing a woman who falsely accused a former high school football star of rape in hopes of recovering legal fees and a $750,000 settlement paid to her.
The Long Beach Press-Telegram reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/16TjOrb) that the district alleged Wanetta Gibson committed contractual fraud in a lawsuit filed last November.
Gibson was 15 when she accused Brian Banks of attacking her on their high school campus. He insisted the sexual contact with Gibson was consensual, but pleaded no contest to forcible rape on the advice of his lawyer and spent more than five years in prison.
When he got out of prison, Gibson reached out to Banks on Facebook.
During an initial meeting with him, she said she had lied and offered to help him clear his record. But she refused to repeat the story to prosecutors because she feared she would have to return a settlement from a civil lawsuit brought by her mother against the school district.
During a second meeting that was secretly videotaped by a private investigator, she told Banks, "`I will go through with helping you, but it's like at the same time all that money they gave us, I mean gave me, I don't want to have to pay it back."
The tape ultimately led to Banks' exoneration in May 2012.
The district is also trying to recoup about $1.9 million that was spent defending itself against Gibson, and is seeking another $1 million in punitive damages.
However, its lawyers apparently have been unable to locate her.
Banks, once a star middle linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, said he had verbally agreed to attend USC on a scholarship when he was arrested.
He recently signed a contract to play with the Atlanta Falcons and has become a spokesman for the California Innocence Project, which works to exonerate the wrongly accused.