Nate Parker, whose film “Birth of a Nation” is already getting major Oscar buzz, is a rising star in Hollywood and on the verge of a career breakthrough. All that could be derailed, though, now that a dark secret from his past has come to light.
News recently broke that the 36-year-old director was accused of raping a college classmate while he was a student at Penn State University in 1999. According to court documents, Parker and his roommate Jean Celestin, who is a co-writer on Birth of a Nation, were charged with sexual assault for allegedly raping the girl in their apartment while she was unconscious, but Parker was acquitted because he had a prior sexual relationship with her. Celestin, however, was convicted, but ultimately went free after the young woman decided not to testify in his appeal.
The unnamed accuser, who left Penn State shortly after the alleged crime, committed suicide in 2012, with many members of her family laying the blame solely on Parker and Celestin.
The victim’s older brother tells Variety, “He may have litigated out of any kind of situation.” Adding, “My position is he got off on a technicality.”
Parker did not directly speak about the victim when he addressed the issue, but he also did not outright deny the fact that he did, in fact, commit a crime. “Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life,” Parker told Variety. “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 internet has since turned on Parker, claiming that he is the latest celebrity to think that he is above condemnation because of his fame:
This is a huge stain on the record of someone who seemed to be on track to become one of the biggest names in Hollywood. While there are whispers that Fox Searchlight, that bought Birth of a Nation in a bidding war at Sundance last year, will delay the release of the film due to the scandal, their official word is that they stand by their man and the film will come out in October as planned.
As for Parker, this is surely not the last he’ll have to answer to as he gears up for the massive press tour and Oscar campaign for his film.
SOURCE: Variety | PHOTO: Getty