Nate Parker’s buzzworthy film ‘Birth of a Nation’ is set to hit theaters in coming weeks.
Along with Oscar buzz, Nate Parker’s past is also becoming a major part of the discussion. If you didn’t know, Nate was was charged with raping an 18-year-old woman back in 1999.
To make a long story short, Nate and his roommate at the time, Jean McGianni Celestin, were charged with raping an 18-year-old woman after a night of drinking while attending Penn State University.
While Nate admits to having consensual sex with the woman on a previous occasion, he was suspended from the Penn State wrestling team and transferred to another school in Oklahoma because of the allegations.
Nate was acquitted of the charges in 2001, but Jean was found guilty of sexual assault. Jean appealed the verdict and was granted a new trial in 2005, but the case never made it back to court after the victim decided not to testify again.
Fast-forward to today, Jean is listed as Nate’s co-writer on Birth of a Nation..
Speaking to Variety, Nate is addressing his past head-on in an attempt to keep the focus on his film ahead of promo rounds.
“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” — he took a long silence — “I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”
The specifics of the trial are likely to be re-investigated and scrutinized as Parker enters into the spotlight, and begins doing months of press. “My life will be examined and put under the microscope in ways that it never has,” Parker said, pointing to individuals on Twitter who criticized him for having a white wife. “There are numerous things that are surfacing,” he said. “But I’ve always been an open book. I’m an advocate of justice. I’m an older man. I’ve matured a lot. I’ve had many obstacles in my life. I grew up very poor. My father passed away. There are so many things that happened. At the same time, I am the man that I am. I am open to the scrutiny. I will never hide anything from my past.”
Parker, who brought his 6-year-old daughter to the Variety interview, declined to speak about the specifics of the case. “Look at it through the context of 17 years,” he said. “It was a very painful for everyone who went through it. What I learned through 17 years of growth and having children and having a wife and building a family is that we have to fight for what’s right. We have to lead in love.”
As we’ve seen time and time again, acquittal doesn’t necessarily mean a person didn’t do anything wrong. We don’t know what happened that night 17-years-ago, but this entire situation is an unfortunate one.