If you haven't heard by now, rape culture is very real. Brian Banks, who was wrongfully accused of rape 13 years ago, reflected back on his time in the defendant seat. He recalls how no one would look at him and treated him as if he had done something unforgivable.
"It was like I was not even in the room," he said in a statement. "I felt like I wasn't a human being. I was a number."
Brock Turner raped an unconscious and intoxicated woman behind a Stanford University dumpster in the summer of 2015. Banks admits he has followed this trial closely, and was utterly "disgusted" when he learned that Judge Aaron Persky had not only reduced Turner's sentence from the maximum 14 years imprisonment, but had also taken it down from the six month "lenient" sentence. Turner will now spend a grand total of three months in county jail with good behavior. He will still have to register as a sex offender, however.
Banks was accused of rape at the age of 16 and tried as an adult. He went back and forth with his attorney, refusing to serve the 41 years in prison the court wanted to give him. He insisted he was innocent. In the end, he agreed to 90 days of observation in Chico State Prison with assured probation – at least according to his lawyer.
He ended up with six years.
"It was like he was ordering McDonald's at a drive-thru window," Banks said. "It was like he was ordering food and took off."
"I would say it's a case of privilege," Banks said after hearing Persky's ruling. "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? 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?"
After Bank's accuser recanted her story in 2012, Banks went on to work for the NFL. But he has lost five years and two months in prison and five years of high custody parole. That doesn't sound like a free man.
"They gave me six years. They gave him six months." Banks said. "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?"
"I wasn't physically raped, but I was raped in a sense of my freedom," he said. "I was kidnapped, taken against my will, placed in a box for five years and two months. I was denied all human rights. When I screamed and pleaded and begged, it fell on deaf ears. It's a different form of being assaulted and taken advantage of. I know what she is going through."
As well as working for the NFL, Brian Banks worked his way up to being a board member of the California Innocence Project. With them, he has cleared his name and given inspiration speeches as a life coach.
Check your privilege at the door. Evidence is evidence.