Just one day after news surfaced Birth of A Nation star Nate Parker was acquitted for raping a woman while they were both students at Penn State, Variety spoke with the accuser’s older brother who revealed in 2012 she committed suicide.
Johnny, who didn’t give his last name during the interview out of respect for his sister, told the outlet she overdosed on prescription pills. She was 30 years old. “She became detached from reality,” the victim’s brother said. “The progression was very quick and she took her life.”
There’s no proof the victim’s suicide was linked directly to the trial. She was found unresponsive at a drug rehabilitation center by staff members with two 100-count pill bottles of Benadryl. However, in court the victim testified she attempted twice to take her life after the reported rape. The victim’s death certificate, also obtained by Variety, states she suffered from “major depressive disorder with psychotic features, PTSD due to physical and sexual abuse, polysubstance abuse.”
Her brother said although her life was short, he can pin point his sister’s change in behavior. “If I were to look back at her very short life and point to one moment where I think she changed as a person, it was obviously that point,” he said. “The trial was pretty tough for her,” he said.
In 1999, Parker and his roommate Jean Celestin (co-writer for Birth of A Nation) were charged with raping the 18 year old after a night of drinking in their apartment. The woman claimed she was unconscious the entire time, while both Parker and Celestin claim it was consensual. The victim alleged Parker and Celestin later stalked and harassed her after the reported rape.
A jury acquitted Parker due in part to testimony in which he said he had consensual sex with the victim prior to the incident. Celestin was found guilty and spent six months in prison. Celestin appealed the verdict and was granted a new trial in 2005. However the trial never made it to court as the victim didn’t want to testify again.
After the trial, the victim left Penn State before graduating and was awarded 17,500. Parker transferred to another school in Oklahoma. When asked if the film should still be released, Johnny didn’t hold back.
“His character should be under a microscope because of this incident,” Johnny said. “If you removed these two people, the project is commendable. But there’s a moral and ethical stance you would expect from someone with regard to this movie.”
“I don’t think a rapist should be celebrated. It’s really a cultural decision we’re making as a society to go to the theater and speak with our dollars and reward a sexual predator.”