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Brian Banks: Exonerated football star who was wrongfully convicted of rape as a teen cites ‘privilege’ in Stanford case

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Former football star who was exonerated after being falsely accused of rape cited ‘privilege’ in the Stanford rape case.

Brian Banks, 30, spent a little over five years in prison after he plead no contest to a crime that he insisted he didn’t commit at the age of 16.

Banks told 60 Minutes in a 2013 interview, that his lawyer feared he wouldn’t get a fair trial, based on his age, size and race.

His plea of no contest allowed him to avoid a possible 41 years in jail but he was agreeing to a deal that would give him from 18 months to five years in prison, according to reports.

He was exonerated after his accuser was secretly recorded admitting that she made the whole thing up.

But in the case of Brock Allen Turner, 20, who raped an unconscious 23-year-old woman at a frat party, a judge gave him only six months.

He had been facing a 10-year prison term for three felony counts of sexual assault, but was given just six months behind bars for his crime.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky said he weighed Turner’s character, remorse, and lack of criminal history to bypass a heavier penalty.

In a statement that prompted a firestorm of criticism, Persky said jail time would have a ‘severe impact’ on Turner, who was initially portrayed as a well-dressed Division I college athlete through his yearbook photo.

Banks told the New York Daily News in an interview that Turner’s sentence is a ‘case of privilege’.

‘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?

Banks spent five years in prison after he plead no contest to a crime that he insisted he didn’t commit at the age of 16. In 2002 a classmate accused him of kidnapping and raping her. The woman was later secretly recorded admitting that she made the whole thing up. Banks is pictured the day of his conviction dismissal

Banks told the New York Daily News in an interview that the sentence is a ‘case of privilege’. Banks is pictured (No 53) playing for the Atlanta Falcons in 2013

Brock Allen Turner (left and right) was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault in March and sentenced to just six months in county jail, compared to the five years Banks was sentenced to for a crime he didn’t commit

‘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?’

Banks was also bothered by the actions of Turner’s father, Dan A Turner who penned an open letter about the verdict of the rape case, arguing his son’s jail sentence ‘isn’t an appropriate punishment’ while referring to the assault as ’20 minutes of action’.

‘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?’ Banks told CBS News.

‘They gave me six years. They gave him six months.’

Banks told CBS that the consideration for the negative impact on the rapist only deepens the suffering of the victim and diminishes her voice in the case.

Banks said that that all this consideration for the negative impact on the rapist only deepens the suffering of he victim and diminishes her voice in the case

Banks said that the consideration for the negative impact on the rapist only deepens the suffering of the victim and diminishes her voice in the case. He’s pictured in 2012 after his conviction was overturned

Before the high profile case gained national attention, Turner was largely portrayed as a well-dressed college athlete through his yearbook photo (pictured). Many criticized the photo saying it painted the former Division I swimmer as a respectable student with a bright future

Turner’s case was first handled by the Stanford Department of Public Safety, before the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department took over.

Both organizations shirked the responsibility to release Turner’s mugshot, until the sheriff’s department emailed the photograph to New York Magazine on Monday afternoon following mounting public pressure.

Initial reports of the case relied on Turner’s yearbook photo and images from court, which many criticized for painting the 20-year-old former Division I swimmer as a respectable student with a bright future.

Turner’s rape victim, who read a powerful letter to her attacker as she came face-to-face with him in court, has helped shape the response after he was sentenced to just six months in county jail.

She made an emotional speech at Thursday’s sentencing hearing explaining the devastating effect the rape has had on her life, and the letter has been viewed more than six million times since it was published on BuzzFeed News.

In it she said: ‘You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

‘He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years.

‘It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life,’ she added.

Turner was convicted in Santa Clara County Superior Court of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object

Turner maintained that they went outside the Kappa Alpha House, where the party was taking place, and kissed. He said he took off her underwear, penetrated her with his hands and touched her breasts, but never took off his pants. Turner (right) makes his way into the Santa Clara Superior Courthouse on June 2

Turner was convicted in Santa Clara County Superior Court of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.

His victim told BuzzFeed News she was disappointed with the ‘gentle’ sentence and angry Turner still denied the attack.

‘Even if the sentence is light, hopefully this will wake people up,’ she said.

‘I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire. If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder.’ 

In court the victim asked the judge if she could address Turner directly.

She said how she had planned to stay at home on January 17, 2015, but decided to go to the party with her younger sister after their father made dinner.

Once there she said she let her guard down and ‘drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college’.

She ‘blacked out’ after drinking two whiskey shots, two vodka shots.

She explains: ‘The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway.

‘I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow.

The attack took place on Stanford University’s campus in Santa Clara County. Turner was apprehended by two cyclists who witnessed part of the attack

‘I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus.

‘I was very calm and wondering where my sister was.

‘A deputy explained I had been assaulted.

‘I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party.

‘When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing.

‘I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing.

‘I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced.

‘I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.’

She then described how she was examined and asked to sign papers that said ‘Rape Victim’ before being allowed to shower.

She continued: ‘I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore.

‘I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.’

She said that she was told she was found behind a dumpster by two passing cyclists and had potentially been penetrated by a stranger.

She added: ‘I (was told I) should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life.’

She said she was not ready to tell her boyfriend or her family what had happened because she did not know herself.

‘I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.’

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen reacts to what happened in the courtroom outside of the Santa Clara Superior Courthouse in Palo Alto, California

She went on to explain how she became isolated and shut herself off from the world, not eating or sleeping and pretending it didn’t happen.

She eventually discovered what had happened to her reading the news on her phone and came across an article about how she was found unconscious.

‘This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me,’ she said.

‘I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.’

Turner had maintained that the pair went outside the Kappa Alpha House, where the party was taking place, and kissed.

He said he took off her underwear, penetrated her with his hands and touched her breasts, but never took off his pants.

According to Turner, the woman appeared to be enjoying herself as she rubbed his back.

He added that his ‘intentions were not to try and rape the girl without her consent’ but to ‘hook up’ with a girl’.

He said ‘we’ started ‘dry humping’ – rubbing against each other with their clothes on – but said he then felt sick from the seven beers and two sips of whiskey he’d drunk.

He said he stumbled away thinking he would vomit when he noticed another man near him asking what he was doing.

Turner was detained after being spotted by two cyclists, before trying to flee.

The pair managed to tackle him while a third man called the police, Santa Clara County prosecutors say.

After reading about the assault in the news she sought the support of her family and told them what happened to her.

‘The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing,’ she said.

‘When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know.

‘He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone.

‘I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me.

‘Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else.’

She went on to describe the impact the trial had on her and was faced with a barrage of personal questions into her private life and recalling all that she could of the night in excruciating detail.

She said Turner changed his story nearly a year after the attack saying that he had asked her for consent and she said ‘yes’ and that the only reason they were on the ground was because she had fallen down.

She added: ‘On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before of after I came?’

As she concluded the letter she said Turner had done ‘irreversible damage’ to her and her family and thanked all those who had supported her – friends, family and strangers and the two men who saved her.

‘To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget,’ she said.

She finished by saying: ‘And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you.’

Speaking after judge Persky handed down the six month sentence, District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement on Thursday: ‘The punishment does not fit the crime.

‘The predatory offender has failed to take responsibility, failed to show remorse and failed to tell the truth. The sentence does not factor in the true seriousness of this sexual assault, or the victim’s ongoing trauma.’ 

A jury found Turner guilty of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person.

He was also handed three years’ probation but with good behavior he is expected to serve three months in county jail, media reported.

Turner will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and complete a sex offender management program.

His father, Dan Turner has been widely criticized for penning an open letter about the verdict of the rape case: ‘As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of January 17 and 18.

‘He will never be his happy go lucky (sic) self with that easy-going personality and welcoming smile.

‘His every waking moment is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression.’

He goes on to say how much Turner likes to eat – especially Ribeye steaks – and how he’s a ‘very good cook’ but now can hardly eat and only consumes food ‘to exist’.

‘His life will never be the one he dreamt about and worked so hard to achieve.

‘That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 years of life.’

He wrote that his son should not be subjected to incarceration because he ‘has no prior criminal history and has never been violent with anyone including on the night of January 17’.

Dan Turner added that his son can be a positive force in the community by promoting the ‘dangers of alcohol and sexual promiscuity’.

On Sunday, Turner's father, Dan Turner, penned an open letter (pictured) about the verdict of the rape case, arguing his son's jail sentence 'isn't an appropriate punishment'

On Sunday, Turner’s father, Dan Turner, penned an open letter (pictured) about the verdict of the rape case, arguing his son’s jail sentence ‘isn’t an appropriate punishment’

A law professor at the university, Michele Landis Dauber, has urged the school to make serious changes in their policies towards sexual assault.

Only four of the 175 reported sexual assaults at Stanford between 1997 and 2009 were properly investigated.

Dauber has called the statistics ‘appalling’.

Dauber said that despite some improvement by the school in investigating sexual assault cases and acting for welcoming to victims, there is still room for improvement.

The university praised the student cyclists who stepped in to help the victim.

‘Several students, both graduates and undergraduates, were upstanders in this situation,’ Catherine Criswell, the University’s Title IX Coordinator said.

‘They made the courageous decision to intervene and provide assistance. That is exactly the type of leadership and caring we attempt to cultivate in our community, and we commend those students on their courage and quick response.’

Turner voluntarily withdrew from the university shortly after being charged. After his arrest he was released on $150,000 bail.

Originally from Ohio, Turner swam for the Dayton Raiders before being recruited for Stanford and was a three-time All-American high school swimmer at Oakwood High School.

The former first year student is not allowed to re-register for classes and is barred from setting foot on campus.




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About the author

Sydney Chesterfield

Poet, Playwright, Philosopher, Humanitarian, mad lover of children and unflinching fighter for equality on all grounds viz. Women's rights, child rights, sine die.

Twitter: @syd_field