Nate Parker Will Not Apologize for Rape Allegations: ‘I Don’t Feel Guilty’
“You know, I was falsely accused,” said Parker of the rape allegations that were brought against him and Jean Celestin, his roommate at Penn State while they were still students at the university. “You know, I went to court. And I sat in trial. You know, I was vindicated. I was proven innocent.”
Celestin and Parker were accused of raping an 18-year old female classmate in 1999. Parker was charged, tried and acquitted in 2001. Celestin was convicted but later acquitted on an appeal after the witness declined to testify. Their accuser committed suicide in 2012 at the age of 30.
“I do think [her death] is tragic,” said Parker as he broke down on 60 Minutes. “I feel terrible that this woman isn’t here. I feel terrible that her family had to deal with that, but as I sit here, an apology is — no.”
Celestin is listed as a collaborator on The Birth of a Nation, Parker’s film that tells the story of Nat Turner, the enslaved African American man who led the slave revolt in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831. When Cooper suggested to Parker that movie-goers are planning to boycott his film based on the Penn State case, he responded, “I do feel that’s unfortunate.”
Parker claimed that he was “falsely accused” once more when he went on Good Morning America on Monday morning (Oct. 3, 2016) to continue promoting The Birth of a Nation. “I was proven innocent and I’m not going to apologize for that,” he added.
Parker sought to push the attention back on his forthcoming movie and its cultural significance.
“I think the important thing, you know, is this isn’t about me,” Parker continued on GMA. “The story of Nat Turner as an American, as American people, the story about a man who was erased from history, at some point. I think that’s where our focus should be.”
“We’ve become desensitized to the things that are happening and the question is to what do we owe? What is our responsibility? I think patriotism is all about wanting to see America better, wanting to see those are oppressed do better and get treated better.”
Parker hopes that Turner’s story can inspire Americans to address the country’s “issues of systemic crisis,” including “crisis against people of color” or those against the LGBT community.
“There’s just so many people that day to day are facing the type of things that are so disheartening and that are corrupted to America in the same way that there are systemic crises back then in the 19th century that went unchecked because of cognitive dissonance,” added Parker.
The Birth of a Nation hits theaters on Friday, Oct. 7. Watch Parker’s interview with Cooper in the video at the top of the page.