Nate Parker has posted a lengthy open letter, responding to the recent interview of his rape accuser’s brother. In his post, he admits that he is devastated to learn that his accuser had committed suicide. He also maintains his innocence. See his comments below.
These are my words. Written from my heart and not filtered through a third party gaze. Please read these separate from any platform I may have, but from me as a fellow human being. I write to you all devastated… Over the last several days, a part of my past – my arrest, trial and acquittal on charges of sexual assault – has become a focal point for media coverage, social media speculation and industry conversation. I understand why so many are concerned and rightfully have questions. These issues of a women’s right to be safe and of men and women engaging in healthy relationships are extremely important to talk about, however difficult. And more personally, as a father, a husband, a brother and man of deep faith, I understand how much confusion and pain this incident has had on so many, most importantly the young woman who was involved.
I myself just learned that the young woman ended her own life several years ago and I am filled with profound sorrow…I can’t tell you how hard it is to hear this news. I can’t help but think of all the implications this has for her family. I cannot- nor do I want to ignore the pain she endured during and following our trial. While I maintain my innocence that the encounter was unambiguously consensual, there are things more important than the law. There is morality; no one who calls himself a man of faith should even be in that situation. As a 36-year-old father of daughters and person of faith, I look back on that time as a teenager and can say without hesitation that I should have used more wisdom. I look back on that time, my indignant attitude and my heartfelt mission to prove my innocence with eyes that are more wise with time. I see now that I may not have shown enough empathy even as I fought to clear my name. Empathy for the young woman and empathy for the seriousness of the situation I put myself and others in. I cannot change what has happened. I cannot bring this young woman who was someone else’s daughter, someone’s sister and someone’s mother back to life… I have changed so much since nineteen. I’ve grown and matured in so many ways and still have more learning and growth to do. I have tried to conduct myself in a way that honors my entire community – and will continue to do this to the best of my ability. All of this said, I also know there are wounds that neither time nor words can heal. I have never run from this period in my life and I never ever will. Please don’t take this as an attempt to solve this with a statement. I urge you only to take accept this letter as my response to the moment.
As previously reported, while a student wrestler at Penn State University 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. 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.