Nate Parker Writes Facebook Message on Rape Victim’s Suicide
Over the past few days, actor and activist, Nate Parker, found himself embroiled in controversy due to his 1999 college rape charge while a student at Penn State resurfacing and leaving many feeling conflicted as to whether they should support his upcoming film, The Birth of a Nation.
This past weekend, as a way to get ahead of the story, Parker did interviews with Variety and Deadline.com and addressed the events where he was ultimately acquitted of rape.
Today, many learned Parker’s accuser committed suicide in April of 2012 at the age of 30.
Last night, Parker released a statement on his Facebook page where he expressed his sadness that the victim took her own life and also touched on how much he has grown as a “man of faith” since he was 19.
He wrote, “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. While I maintain my innocence that the encounter was unambiguously consensual, there are things more important than the law.”
Parker’s full statement reads as follows:
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.
The victim’s family also released a statement to the New York Times, saying, “We appreciate that after all this time, these men are being held accountable for their actions. However, we are dubious of the underlying motivations that bring this to present light after 17 years, and we will not take part in stoking its coals. While we cannot protect the victim from this media storm, we can do our best to protect her son. For that reason, we ask for privacy for our family and do not wish to comment further.”
In an interview with Variety, the victim’s brother said, “She became detached from reality. The progression was very quick and she took her life.”
Parker’s The Birth of a Nation was purchased by Fox Searchlight in January at the Sundance Film Festival for $17.5 million. The film, which tells the story of Nat Turner, an enslaved preacher, leading a slave revolt in 1831, has a planned release date of October 7. The studio is said to be monitoring the controversy surrounding Parker and how it will affect the press run which was to include the actor and director speaking at churches and colleges about social injustices.
Photo Credit: Mashable.com