Nate Parker, director and writer of the highly anticipated film “The Birth of a Nation”, is addressing something that has haunted his past. While a student wrestler at Penn State University, in 1999, he and his roommate Jean Celestin (who is also credited as co-writing “The Birth of a Nation”) — were charged with raping a 20-year-old female student. The incident happened in their apartment after a night of drinking. Nate recently opened up about the incident, saying:
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.
Back when the incident happened he had sex but said it was consensual. Meanwhile, the woman claimed a different story. She says that she was unconscious, and did not consent to having sex with Parker or Celestin. In fact, she alleged that she was stalked and harassed by the two men after she contacted the police.
The end result? His roommate, Celestin, was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison. He later appealed the verdict, and a second trial in 2005 was thrown out due to the victim not wanting to testify again. Parker was acquitted. (She sued the university and was awarded a $17,500 settlement out of court.) Parker, who is now promoting the film, says:
My life will be examined and put under the microscope in ways that it never has. There are numerous things that are surfacing. 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.
“The Birth of A Nation” will be released on October 7, 2016.