As you may be aware, The Birth of a Nation director and star Nate Parker recently faced a bit of heat from the press when he had to address rape charges from 17 years ago. To make matters worse, it just came to light that the woman who accused Parker of sexual assault committed suicide a few years back!
Nate and his Penn State college roommate, Jean Celestin, were both accused of raping a fellow student and in 2001 the director was tried but acquitted after it was revealed that he had a consensual sexual relationship with the woman before the night of the incident in question. As for Mr. Parker’s buddy, he was sentenced to six months in prison, but appealed the decision and was ultimately let off the hook.
Just recently, the victim’s brother came forward and spoke about his thoughts on the trial and how it affected his sister and lead to her death.
Well now the actor and director has broken his silence after apparently learning for the first time that his accuser had killed herself. In an honest Facebook note, he penned:
These are my words. Written from my heart and not filtered through a third party gaze. Please read these separate from any platform I may have, but from me as a fellow human being.
I write to you all devastated├óΓé¼┬ª
Over the last several days, a part of my past ├óΓé¼ΓÇ£ my arrest, trial and acquittal on charges of sexual assault ├óΓé¼ΓÇ£ has become a focal point for media coverage, social media speculation and industry conversation. I understand why so many are concerned and rightfully have questions. These issues of a women’s right to be safe and of men and women engaging in healthy relationships are extremely important to talk about, however difficult. And more personally, as a father, a husband, a brother and man of deep faith, I understand how much confusion and pain this incident has had on so many, most importantly the young woman who was involved.
I myself just learned that the young woman ended her own life several years ago and I am filled with profound sorrow├óΓé¼┬ªI 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.
I cannot- nor do I want to ignore the pain she endured during and following our trial. While I maintain my innocence that the encounter was unambiguously consensual, there are things more important than the law. There is morality; no one who calls himself a man of faith should even be in that situation. 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. Empathy for the young woman and empathy for the seriousness of the situation I put myself and others in.
I cannot change what has happened. I cannot bring this young woman who was someone else’s daughter, someone’s sister and someone’s mother back to life├óΓé¼┬ª
I have changed so much since nineteen. I’ve grown and matured in so many ways and still have more learning and growth to do. I have tried to conduct myself in a way that honors my entire community ├óΓé¼ΓÇ£ and will continue to do this to the best of my ability.
All of this said, I also know there are wounds that neither time nor words can heal.
I have never run from this period in my life and I never ever will. 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.
We’re not sure how the accuser’s family will take the Hollywood star’s response, but they had previously released a statement saying:
“We appreciate that after all this time, these men are being held accountable for their actions. However, we are dubious of the underlying motivations that bring this to present light after 17 years, and we will not take part in stoking its coals. While we cannot protect the victim from this media storm, we can do our best to protect her son. For that reason, we ask for privacy for our family and do not wish to comment further.”
It sounds like we may have heard the last on this issue, but we hope talking about it more has helped those affected negatively to move on.
What do you think of the 36-year-old’s response?
[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]