Nate Parker Speaks Out, Says He Just Learned Of Victim's Suicide
"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."
Birth of A Nation star Nate Parker has been at the center of controversy after coming forward about his college rape trial and acquittal that too place more than 17 years ago.
However, in an exclusive interview with Variety, the victim's older brother revealed his sister committed suicide in 2012 , and while there's no evidence linking the trial to her passing, her death certificate indicated she suffered from post traumatic stress disorder due to physical and sexual abuse, polysubstance abuse.”
Parker took to Facebook Tuesday (August 16) to speak out about the negative attention he's at the center of, and to express his condolences about the victim, which he alleged he didn't know committed suicide four years ago.
"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," the 36-year-old writer and director said.
In his statement, Parker maintains his innocence, that the night in question was "unambiguously consensual" but also expressed great empathy, addressing the notion that his acquittal did not erase the hurt and trauma the trial caused the victim.
"...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."
Parker's Birth of A Nation premiered at January's Sundance Film Festival and received a standing ovation from attendees, and went onto become the darling of the film world. It was later purchased by Fox Searchlight for a record breaking $17.5 million with early Oscar buzz surrounding the Nat Turner slave revolt film before it hit theaters.
However, Parker's rape trial has placed a grey crowd over the movie as he along with the cast begin the film's press run, causing many to reconsider supporting it upon release.
"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."
Read Parker's full statement below.