Parker’s directorial debut feature film The Birth of a Nation sold for $17.5 million at the Sundance Film Festival this year, but with success, he’s experienced high media scrutiny as more details from his 1999 rape trial emerge. Parker was acquitted of all charges and transferred to another school, while his roommate (and The Birth of a Nation cowriter) Jean Celestin was sentenced to six months in jail. Celestin reportedly won a mistrial on appeal, however, after their accuser refused to testify a second time.
All this has been public knowledge for years (the case was even on Parker’s Wikipedia page), but became a media frenzy only just last week. Sharpton feels the timing is suspicious and went on the record to say as much to The New York Daily News.
“I want answers. I’m suspicious,” he said, adding. “The timing and the standard is my concern.” He also doesn’t understand why Parker’s career should suffer if he and Celestine were eventually acquitted, telling the publication, “If a person is accused of a crime and is acquitted, are we now saying they should not be considered for an Oscar?”
Has no guilty man has ever gotten off scot-free in America, Rev? The pundit and activist also seems to be ignoring the fact that Parker’s initial interview about the case kickstarted the renewed public interest — and scrutiny — and that the whole thing is news again precisely because Parker is a bigger star than ever.
Leave your thoughts below and read Parker’s reaction to learning his accuser committed suicide here.