Latest posts by Taylor Carlington (see all)
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Nate Parker made headlines earlier this year when he sold his film “The Birth of a Nation” for a $17.5 million at the Sundance Film Festival, making a record-breaking amount for sold movie rights. The film was immediately thought to be a major contender for the Oscars, but now all of this is being called into question because of previous rape allegations against Parker.
“The Birth of a Nation,” tells the story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion as he begins as a preaching slave and later starts a revolution that alters the history of slavery in America. The film is slated for release in October.
In 1999 Parker was charged with raping a fellow Penn State student and later acquitted on the same charge in 2001. The victim’s brother recently spoke out about the case and gave an interview to Variety.
In the interview, the victim’s brother stated that his sister was “detached from reality” and that he believes Parker “got off on a technicality”.
In 1999, Parker and his roommate, who also co-wrote “The Birth of a Nation”, Jean Celestin were charged with raping the then 18-year-old girl. The victim said that she was unconscious when the act happened and was later stalked on campus while Parker and Celestin claimed it was consensual. Both men were on the Penn State wrestling team. They were suspended for the accusations, and Parker later transferred.
The victim died in 2012 at age 30 by overdosing on sleeping pills at a drug rehabilitation facility. Her death was ruled a suicide.
During the trial, the deceased admitted under testimony, that she tried to take her life twice after the incident with Parker and his roommate.
Johnny, the victim’s brother, said, “I feel certain if this were to happen in 2016, the outcome would be different than it was. Courts are a lot stricter about this kind of thing. You don’t touch someone who is so intoxicated — period.”
He later added, “I must admit Penn State has a horrendous record. And Jerry Sandusky is just the tip of the iceberg. The University has a history of protecting [athletes].”
Following the trial, Johnny’s sister left Penn State before graduating with a $17,500 settlement from the school. He said, “We certainly as a family forgive them. I don’t know that [the victim] would forgive them. I don’t think that she would.”
Despite her tragic ending the victim did go on to find love with a boyfriend and young son before her untimely death.
When speaking of the incident, Parker said, ““Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life. It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”
The timing of the case coming into light may bring more trouble for Parker seeing as part of the promotional tour for the film is going to churches and college campuses speaking on the social injustices that are shown in the film. Considering his and his cowriter’s involvement with a rape case that ultimately led to the death of a young woman, the initial tour plan may not pan out as first thought.
The studio releasing “The Birth of a Nation” released a statement about the accusations saying, “Fox Searchlight is aware of the incident that occurred while Nate Parker was at Penn State. We also know that he was found innocent and cleared of all charges. We stand behind Nate and are proud to help bring this important and powerful story to the screen.”