Nate Parker is about to have the biggest moment of his career when his Oscar-buzzy film Birth of a Nation comes out this fall. But with fame comes scrutiny, and a dark secret from his past is coming back to haunt him.
In 1999, Parker — then a college student at Penn State University — and his roommate, Jean Celestin, who is his co-writer on Birth of a Nation, were charged with raping a fellow student who was unconscious in their apartment. Though Parker was acquitted on account that he had a prior sexual relationship with the woman, Celestin was convicted, but then granted a mistrial during his appeal when the victim decided she didn't want to testify again.
Now, with months of non-stop press for Birth of a Nation ahead of him, Parker is speaking out about the incident in hopes to get ahead of it. “Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life,” he told Variety. “It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is ... I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”
Unfortunately for him, Twitter isn't letting this one go:
I am reading that Nate Parker transcript of his victim's civil trial! Nate is trash, and so is Penn State #icantevenJesus— Corey B. King (@coreybking) August 16, 2016
given that Nate Parker is a r*pist, it's gonna be much harder to justify seeing The Birth of a Nation, unfortunately— Gage Ledbetter (@gage_ledbetter) August 16, 2016
Nate Parker is CANCELLED. ⛔️— Baebs Hoedumo (@DeesseDee) August 16, 2016
This is what happens when you say AllLivesMatter, fam @NateParker— Film-Goon (@DepressedGod) August 16, 2016
Nate Parker's victim attempted suicide twice. But somehow Nate Parker thinks *he's* the real victim in all this.— Ashley (@ashcech) August 16, 2016
Wow. Could this threaten the release of Parker's film, which is a hands-down favorite to sweep the Oscar nominations this year, and damage his reputation in Hollywood?
See what all the fuss around Birth of a Nation is about with BET Breaks, above.
(Photo: Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for ESSENCE)