As I was browsing the news today I came across a story that literally made me sick. My stomach is all tied up in knots right now from hearing this.

A young high school football star, Brian Banks, who had accepted a scholarship to play college football at USC was thrown in jail because a girl at his high school, Wanetta Gibson, lied and said that he raped her.

He pled guilty on the advice of his attorney and his future was destroyed. He served six years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

When he got out of prison, the accuser friended him on Facebook and eventually admitted to him that she had lied (as if he didn’t already know that). She offered to help him clear his name, but at the same time wouldn’t repeat the true story. Why?

Because she had sued the school district and was awarded $1.5 million.

Meanwhile, Brian served six years in prison instead of getting a college education, playing college football, and even potentially going to the NFL to make millions of dollars. He is currently training and hopes to get a tryout with an NFL team somewhere.

Wanetta Gibson Wanted to Keep Her $1.5 Million

This girl obviously knew it was wrong to lie. She obviously knew it was wrong to send a boy to jail for six years. And yet, she would have rather had $1.5 million than give this man his life back.

She knew she didn’t deserve the money. But she wanted it.

She didn’t care that the school district could have used that money for textbooks or supplies or to pay the annual salary of about 25 teachers. She didn’t care that hard working taxpayers of her community expected that money to go to the local school district.

She wanted that money.

The Most Logical Punishment for Wanetta Gibson

This girl is going to get in trouble, but my guess is that it won’t be nearly as much trouble as she deserves. They are probably going to put her in jail for a few months and ask her to pay back the $1.5 million, at which point she’ll just declare bankruptcy. And even if they put her in jail for life, how does that help Brian?

If I were in charge, here’s the punishment I would dole out:

  • First, Wanetta Gibson should not go to jail immediately.
  • She must pay Brian Banks damages for the wrongful conviction (which never would have happened without this girl’s lies). Thaddeus Jimenez got $25 million for 16 years in prison, or $1.5625 million per year of incarceration. Using that precedent, she owes Brian Banks $9.375 million. If she doesn’t have the money (which she probably doesn’t) then her wages will be garnished until she pays him back.
  • Once she has paid her debt to Brian, her wages will continue to be garnished until she has paid back all $1.5 million, plus interest, to the school district.
  • If at any point she decides that she doesn’t want to work, she will then serve 6 years in prison. And not the fancy schmancy Martha Stewart prison either. She should have to go to the female version of the maximum security prison where they sent Brian as a “rapist”.
gavel

photo credit: flickr.com/vectorportal

What could be more reasonable? She can never give Brian the experience of playing college football at USC, getting an education, and potentially going to the NFL. Maybe meeting his wife, maybe having some kids… who knows? She can’t give him that time back, but she can pay him.

She should obviously have to pay the school district back if she ever had enough money to do so after paying Brian first. That’s a no brainer.

Also, bankruptcy should not be an option. I don’t care if she has to work until she’s 100 to pay these debts.

Finally, I don’t think taxpayers should be on the hook for Brian’s damages. The justice system worked as it is supposed to. The only person who is at fault here is the girl who lied under oath.

Actions Should Have Real Consequences

You can’t just say “I’m sorry,” when you completely destroy someone’s life and steal over a million dollars from a school district. I’m sure some people will say my proposed punishment is excessive, but I’m obviously going to disagree. There were real consequences to the lies she told years ago, and Brian and the school district have already paid them.

Wanetta Gibson’s repercussions should be just as real.

Readers: If you were the judge and the jury, what punishment would you hand down on Wanetta Gibson?