National Football League

Exonerated LB Banks signs with Falcons

by Charles Odum, The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) – Brian Banks signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday after the former Southern Cal recruit's football dream was derailed when he was convicted of rape and kidnapping charges a decade ago.

The linebacker will participate in Atlanta's offseason workouts with a chance to resume his career. Banks, 27, has been trying to get back into football since he was cleared on May 12, 2012, of a rape conviction.

The Falcons are the first NFL team to sign Banks, but he has had chances with other teams. He took part in the Seattle Seahawks' minicamp last June following workouts with Kansas City and San Diego.

The Falcons have scheduled a conference call for Wednesday with Banks.

Banks was 16 and had a scholarship offer from USC when a Long Beach Poly high school classmate accused him of the rape. He spent five years in jail and five years on probation.

The woman recanted her claim and offered to help Banks clear his name after he was out of prison. That helped lead to the conviction being overturned by a California court and Banks' record cleared.

Banks has become a spokesman for the California Innocence Project, which works to exonerate the wrongly accused.

Banks is expected to attend when the Falcons hold their first offseason workout on April 22.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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