How Brian Banks recovered from a false rape charge: “They deemed me a monster”

Once an All-American high school football star destined for the NFL, Brian Banks found his life upended when he was wrongly convicted of a crime he didn't commit. Banks and Justin Brooks, director and co-founder of the California Innocence Project, appeared on "Salon Talks" to discuss a new film in theaters now called "Brian Banks" and starring Aldis Hodge, Greg Kinnear and Sherri Shepherd, which is based on Banks' story and sheds light on some of the growing problems within America's criminal justice system.

In 2002, Banks was committed to play football at USC, until a high school classmate accused him of rape. After being convicted for that crime and serving five years in prison, Banks was freed and later exonerated of all charges with the help of Brooks and the California Innocence Project.

"They labeled and deemed me a monster, but in fact I was the one who would leave my house every day looking over my shoulder and being afraid of someone recognizing me or coming after me because of what they read online," Banks told SalonTV's D. Watkins.

Brooks, who helped represent Banks in court for his exoneration, explained why this case was so compelling. "He had so much taken away from him. Most of my clients just had regular lives and we're trying to get them back to it. Brian was going to go to the NFL. Brian had this incredible career ahead of him," Brooks said. "Brian had this compelling evidence of innocence that was not necessarily going to pass the evidence standards in court, but clearly showed he was innocent."

Watch the episode above to hear more about Banks' story, where he is today, and the experience of having his story portrayed in a Hollywood movie.

About "Salon Talks"

Hosted by Salon journalists, "Salon Talks" episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. "Salon Talks" is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on Facebook and Twitter and each episode is published in full on

Watch SalonTV, streaming live daily on, and YouTube.

Subscribe to SalonTV on YouTube HERE:

Like Salon on Facebook HERE:

Follow Salon on Twitter HERE:

Follow Salon on Instagram HERE:

More From Salon Talks Full Episodes