Nate Parker spoke out about the 17-year-old rape trial again, this time on his Facebook page. In a lengthy post written Tuesday night, the star of the upcoming The Birth of a Nation addressed concern over what he called his “arrest, trial and acquittal on charges of sexual assault.”
In 1999, Parker and his Nation co-writer Jean Celestin were put on trial for the reported rape of an 18-year-old woman after a night of drinking. The incident occurred during their time at Pennsylvania State University. The actor maintained the sex was consensual while the female student said she was unconscious. Parker was acquitted. Celestin was convicted, but his case was turned over on appeal.
The writer-director recently learned that the alleged victim committed suicide in 2012.
Her sibling told Variety yesterday that she overdosed on sleeping pills at age 30.
“She became detached from reality,” the woman’s brother, Johnny, told Variety, requesting his last name not be used. “The progression was very quick and she took her life.
“If I were to look back at her very short life and point to one moment where I think she changed as a person, it was obviously that point,” he said referring to the rape allegation.
“The trial was pretty tough for her,” he added.
Upon learning about the woman’s death, Parker shared he was “filled with profound sorrow.”
“I can’t tell you how hard it is to hear this news. I can’t help but think of all the implications this has for her family,” he wrote.
Additionally, Parker a father of five, maintained his innocence, stating “the encounter was unambiguously consensual.”
“As a 36-year-old father of daughters and person of faith, I look back on that time as a teenager and can say without hesitation that I should have used more wisdom. I look back on that time, my indignant attitude and my heartfelt mission to prove my innocence with eyes that are more wise with time. I see now that I may not have shown enough empathy even as I fought to clear my name.”
“I have changed so much since 19. I’ve grown and matured in so many ways and still have more learning and growth to do.”
“I have never run from this period in my life and I never ever will,” he concluded. “Please don’t take this as an attempt to solve this with a statement. I urge you only to take accept this letter as my response to the moment.”
Commentators responded mercilessly to the director’s statement.
Peggy Smith used his religion against him.
Brynne Walker saw the trial as Parker ruining Nat Turner’s story.
Some thought the statement sent the right message, however.
Chelsea Nichole expressed her appreciation for the letter, calling the alleged act a “lapse in judgment.”
Marcus McNeely admired the Beyond the Lights star now more than ever.
“Please don’t let this distract you from your purpose,” he wrote in part.
But Eboni Brown saw it differently.
“I believe in God, but I’ll be damned if I condone rape,” she said.