Blue Pill speaks on Nate Parker Rape Allegations and ‘The Birth of A Nation’ Movie
Nate Parker (born November 18, 1979) is an American actor, director, producer, writer, and musical performer who has appeared in Beyond the Lights, Red Tails, The Secret Life of Bees, The Great Debaters, Arbitrage, Non-Stop, Felon and Pride. Parker made history at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival with his directorial debut feature film The Birth of a Nation when Fox Searchlight Pictures acquired the distribution rights to the film for $17.5 million, which broke the record for the most paid for a Sundance Film Festival production surpassing Little Miss Sunshine, which had been acquired by Searchlight for $10 million ten years earlier.
In 1999, while a sophomore at Pennsylvania State University, Parker and his roommate and wrestling teammate, Jean McGianni Celestin, were accused of raping a fellow Penn State student. Parker also allegedly invited an additional male person to join him and Celestin in the act, although that person declined. The unnamed accuser claimed that Parker and Celestin raped her while she was intoxicated and unconscious and said she was unsure of how many people had been involved. She claimed the two harassed her after she pressed charges, and that they hired a private investigator who showed her picture around campus, revealing her identity. Celestin, who shares a story credit on The Birth of a Nation, was convicted of sexual assault and received a six month to one year prison sentence in 2001, later raised to two to four years per state sentencing guidelines. Appealing the case on grounds of ineffective counsel at the first trial, Celestin’s initial conviction was overturned in 2005 and he was granted a new trial to rehear the charges; however, his accuser declined to testify again and prosecution did not pursue the retrial.
On campus in 2001, students raised concerns that race may have influenced Celestin’s initial trial; Celestin is black (as is Parker), while the accuser and all but one of the jurors were white.
Via the Women’s Law Project, Parker’s accuser filed a complaint against the university for failing to protect her from harassment which was settled with Penn State for $17,500.She committed suicide in 2012 after two previous attempts, according to court documents.
Because The Birth of a Nation had increased scrutiny due to possible Oscar-nominations, and the film itself depicts a brutal rape, there was significant press coverage about damage control by Fox Searchlight Pictures, the studio releasing the film. Interviews in Variety and Deadline were a focus, as was Parker’s response to the event in an impassioned Facebook post.