Update: false accuser liable to school district in Brian Banks case

After Wanetta Gibson falsely accused Brian Banks of rape (earlier), her family won a settlement in a civil suit against the Long Beach, Calif. schools; Banks himself, a former prep football star, served more than five years in prison. Now the school district has obtained a $2.6 million default judgment against Gibson, whose whereabouts are unknown. “According to the school district, the judgment recoups a $750,000 settlement paid to Gibson and also includes attorney’s fees, interest and $1 million in punitive damages.” [Long Beach Press-Telegram] Earlier accounts had erroneously reported that Gibson had been paid $1.5 million.


  • […] via Balko, Volokh; & welcome Reddit readers] Update 2014: School district obtains default judgment against Gibson; contrary to reports at the time, the amount paid in the original settlement is now reported at […]

  • It’s good that they are attempting to redress this injustice, but they won’t recoup much money, if any. Wanetta Gibson’s mother reportedly spent it all on lavish gifts for herself.

  • The false accusation should be met with at least the same punishment as that suffered by the falsely accused. Reparations for the stolen money should then follow as a condition of release.

    Right now, the system is set up as a lottery for the unscrupulous. One false accusation and you’re rich beyond anything you might have actually earned. Get caught, and the punishment is irrelevantly small. That has to change.

    P.S. How much did her original lawyer(s) get out of the settlement? Anything? Can it be recovered?

  • Whereabouts unknown? Nonsense. *Someone* knows where she is. Put her picture on the net and ask people if they have seen her.

    An innocent man lost five years of his life and maybe a career in football because of her false accusation. Find her and make an example of her.

    “Wanetta Gibson’s mother reportedly spent it all on lavish gifts for herself.” If that’s the case, then go after the mother. If the mother had access to the funds as guardian for dear Wanetta while she was a minor, the school district is Wanetta’s creditor and can demand an accounting. If the mother wasn’t the guardian, and was given the funds by the absentee low life, then mother might be liable under CA law as the recipient of a transfer that was a fraud on creditors.

  • I oppose “making an example of her,” because it was her vestige of a conscience that unraveled the lie and got (belated) vindication for an innocent man. I would not want to send a message that society supports those who brazen it out, but punishes recanters without mercy.

    I do wonder about her mother’s role, however. Did the daughter privately express misgivings, only to be shushed by a mother with dollar signs in her eyes?

  • Sorry. Recanting after your victim spends 5 years behind bars does not qualify as even a vestigial conscience.

  • I oppose “making an example of her,” because it was her vestige of a conscience that unraveled the lie and got (belated) vindication for an innocent man. I would not want to send a message that society supports those who brazen it out, but punishes recanters without mercy.

    That’s OK, Hugo. I oppose someone losing everything and spending time in prison because of a false accusation. I see you’re all about mercy. What about some mercy for Brian Banks? What about how he’s suffered? As the old question goes, where does he go to get his reputation back? Do you even give a damn?

  • @cgage–
    If you lived in Massachusetts, where prosecutors and quack therapists still brazen out the infamous Fells Acres and Bernard Baran day care cases thirty years later, you would have a different perspective One of these vile creatures even hopes to be elected governor next month.

    I support the restitution claim against Wanetta Gibson and her mother. But save the prison for those whose lies are exposed by others.

    Although I do not know the details of the case, perhaps indemnification should also be pursued against a DA’s office that should have known better even before the recantation.

  • Many on the extreme left, including our own Hugo S. Cunningham, oppose punishing those who make false rape accusations–which is most likely about 50% of all non-stranger rape accusations that don’t have physical evidence of trauma–under the perverted theory that it will discourage the “real victims” from coming forward.

  • If our own Hugo S. Cunningham is “on the extreme left,” count me surprised.

  • 50% huh?


  • Well, Hugo, let us assume that Mr. Banks feels he has been wronged. He seeks recompense. Whom should he sue?

    Ms. Gibson seems to have committed perjury. Should we pat her on the head and send her on her way?

    I understand your point about not wishing to discourage earnest recantation. Your solution does not seem satisfactory to me.

    Others who agree with Hugo, feel free to defend your position.


  • While I very seriously doubt that 50% of rape accusations are false, I would not be surprised if 5% to 10% of such accusations were false.

  • I suspect Robert found this web page:

    The comrades of the Cyber USSR hasten to assure Robert that they offer “no guarantee of ideological soundness for statements by Kanningam, a bourgeois fellow-traveler in our popular front against Trotskyism.”

    For my own part, I foam at the mouth at the very mention of Trotsky…

    PS to Robert:
    As you value your life, stay away from the website
    Some of their so-called journalism might put too much strain on your heart…

  • @Boblipton–

    Many States offer restitution to the exonerated. I strongly favor such laws; indeed I would go further, invoking the power of Congress under the Fourteenth Amendment to force all States to offer restitution.

    I do not oppose a civil lawsuit against the recanter and especially against her mother, but doubt how much money would be recovered.

    I would like to see lawsuits against rogue prosecutors, likely to have more money than the average false accuser. I do not know enough about this case, howeverl to say whether prosecutors should have dropped it even before the recantation.

    But I stand by my opposition to imprisonment of voluntary recanters. Even if you reject my desire to encourage recantation, criminal prosecution faces serious practical obstacles. Start with the Miranda rule and related protections against self-incrimination. By the time all such tainted evidence is excluded, your chances of proving your case “beyond a reasonable doubt” have vanished.

    The Duke Lacrosse false accuser, unmasked by the efforts of others, is a better example of someone deserving criminal prosecution. But even she is a rather pathetic, wretched creature, led on by a politically ambitious prosecutor. It is the prosecutior, Nifong, who should be sent to prison, for a term three times the total terms he intended for the victims of his frame-up, say 3 x 3 people x 10 years apiece = 90 years.