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Ex-football star says he wants no 'ill will' against rape accuser

May 25, 2012 |  2:40 pm

Brian Banks, the former high school football star whose rape conviction was dismissed by a judge, said he is trying not to harbor ill will toward his accuser, who later admitted to him that she lied.

In a remarkable turn of events on Thursday, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge dismissed Banks' conviction, ending nearly 10 years of turmoil for the 26-year-old man, whose college football career was put on hold after he pleaded no contest to alleged rape and served five years in prison. Although Banks always professed his innocence, he took the deal rather than face a potential 41-year sentence if convicted.

In an interview with CNN on Friday, Banks said he is "overcome with relief."

The conviction was overturned with the help of the California Innocence Project -- and came after his accuser, Wanetta Gibson, friended him on Facebook. She agreed to meet with him and a private investigator. The meeting was secretly tape-recorded and she admitted that she lied, saying, "No, he did not rape me," according to court papers.

Prosecutors have said they do not plan to charge Gibson with filing a false report and that it would be a difficult case to prove.

"My main focus has just been being free, being a regular citizen in America," Banks told CNN. "And now that I have that opportunity, I'm just overwhelmed with that. … From here, it's just forward progression, playing football, getting a tryout for the NFL, just doing what I can do."

He said he has not given much thought to a civil lawsuit against Gibson.

"I just want to be positive," Banks said. "I want to be in a better position than what I was yesterday, and the only way that that can happen is by eliminating any negative ill will or feelings toward anyone."

Gibson's mother filed a lawsuit against the Long Beach Unified School District -- Gibson and Banks attended Long Beach Poly High -– and reached a $1.5-million settlement. The district declined comment on whether it might try to recoup the money, saying that the case involved minors.

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-- Kimi Yoshino and Ashley Powers

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