In 1999, a woman accused actor Nate Parker and his friend (also executive producer of “The Birth of a Nation”) Jean Celestin of rape while they were all students at Penn State University. Court documents state that the rape happened at an off-campus apartment on August 21, 1999. The woman was unconscious from intoxication at the time of the rape.
Following the alleged assault the woman went forward to police in Sept. of ’99. Parker and Celestin were arrested in October. The court documents also state that a private investigator hired by Parker and Celestin showed the woman’s picture to students on campus, causing the victim to face harassment from strangers on campus. The documents also claim that Parker and Celestin harassed the woman despite a restraining order forbidding them to contact her.
Parker was acquitted in 2001. Celestin was convicted and sentenced to six months behind bars, but the conviction was overturned and sent back to court. Celestin never got a new trial as the woman declined to testify again. Parker transfer to the University of Oklahoma and the woman was given $15,000 from Penn State.
Variety reported this week that the victim committed suicide in 2012. She was 30 years old. In that same report, the victim’s brother spoke out against Parker stating that he should not be celebrating ahead of the release of the film “The Birth of a Nation.” Social media has been split around supporting Parker and last night he released a statement after giving the following response to Variety about the rape.
“I’ve always been an open book. … I will never hide anything from my past,” re-emphasized his exoneration from the charges, and expressed a hope to shift dialogue beyond the accusations. “I have since moved on and been focusing on my family and writing career,” he said. Celestin said in a statement: “This was something that I experienced as a college student 17 years ago and was fully exonerated of. I have since moved on and been focusing on my family and writing career.”
In a Facebook post Tuesday, Parker maintained his innocence and claimed the “encounter was unambiguously consensual.” He also claimed he is very remorseful over the suicide of the victim. You can read it in full below.