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Wrongfully imprisoned black football player reacts to white swimmer’s lenient rape sentence

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Brian Banks, a black former football star who spent five years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit, said he was flabbergasted by the six-month sentence handed down to a white former college swimmer.

Brock Turner — an All-American swimmer with Olympic aspirations — could have been sentenced to a maximum of 14 years in a state prison for his conviction on sexual assault, and prosecutors asked for a six-year term.

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But Judge Aaron Persky imposed a lighter sentence — which could last only three months with good behavior — because he worried about the “severe impact” prison would have on the 23-year-old.

“I would say it’s a case of privilege,” Banks told the New York Post. “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?”

Banks was a 16-year-old high school football star courted by big-time colleges in 2002, when another student at Long Beach Poly High accused him of rape — although his accuser admitted 10 years later she’d made up the sexual assault.

By then, Banks had already spent five years in prison and missed out on the college football career that he’d hoped would prepare him for the NFL.

The judge in Turner’s case expressed empathy for the former swimmer, who was found guilty by 12 jurors, but Banks said the judge in his case seemed completely indifferent about altering the course of his life.

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“It was like he was ordering McDonald’s at a drive-thru window,” Banks told the Post‘s Gary Myers. “It was like he was ordering food and took off.”

Banks was not convicted but had agreed to plead no contest — which means he neither admitted to nor disputed the forcible rape charge against him — rather than stand trial, where he faced a 41-year to life sentence if jurors believed his accuser over him.

“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?” Banks said. “They gave me six years. They gave him six months.”

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Persky fretted about how Turner, who had no prior criminal record, would handle prison — where he would encounter much older violent criminals — but Banks was given no such consideration, even though his prior record was also spotless.

Banks said he did not face the abuse that convicted sex offenders often endure behind bars because he is big and strong, and other inmates recognized him as a prep football star — but he said prison psychologically damaged him.

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As a result, he identifies with Turner’s victim — who he believed had been “totally ignored.”

“I wasn’t physically raped, but I was raped in a sense of my freedom,” Banks told the newspaper. “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.”

Banks is now a board member for the Innocence Project, which helped clear his name, and works for the NFL’s Department of Operations and gives motivational speeches.

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His accuser, Wanetta Gibson, was ordered to pay $2.6 million to the Long Beach Unified School District, including a $750,000 settlement she had been previously awarded, along with attorney fees and $1 million in punitive damages.


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2020 Election

Trump campaign ramps up smear campaign on Obama’s ebola czar for exposing the president’s COVID-19 bumbling: report

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Stung by a highly effective video he made for Vice President Joe Biden criticizing Donald Trump's response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, the communications team working on the president's re-election is going after President Barack Obama's former ebola czar, Ron Klain.

Klain, who is now becoming a fixture on cable news, took part in a video ad touting the campaign of Biden, and used his expertise to rip into the Trump administration's efforts to deal with the national health crisis. That put a target on his back as the president's 2020 campaign team is trying to stem the damage that threatens the president's chances of being re-elected in November.

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Trump ignored advice to tell country the coronavirus pandemic was ‘bad and could get very worse’ in early March: report

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According to a day-by-day examination of the White House efforts to get up to speed on dealing with the growing coronavirus pandemic that has now brought the country to an almost complete standstill, Politico reports that Donald Trump was advised in early March to warn the public things were about to get worse and chose to ignore that advice.

The report notes that the final realization about the dangerous spread of COVID-19 preceded the president's rare prime time address to the nation.

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Why the novel coronavirus became a social media nightmare

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The biggest reputational risk Facebook and other social media companies had expected in 2020 was fake news surrounding the US presidential election. Be it foreign or domestic in origin, the misinformation threat seemed familiar, perhaps even manageable.

The novel coronavirus, however, has opened up an entirely different problem: the life-endangering consequences of supposed cures, misleading claims, snake-oil sales pitches and conspiracy theories about the outbreak.

So far, AFP has debunked almost 200 rumors and myths about the virus, but experts say stronger action from tech companies is needed to stop misinformation and the scale at which it can be spread online.

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