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Nate Parker Responds To New Revelations About His Rape Trial And Accuser

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With the spotlight shining brighter on his 2001 college rape case than on his directorial debut, the Sundance hit The Birth of a Nation, filmmaker Nate Parker is speaking out again. This time around, Parker has much more to say than just “that was 17 years ago and I’ve since moved on with my life.”

On Tuesday it came to light that the woman who accused Parker and Jean Celestin, co-writer of Birth, of raping her while she was unconscious killed herself by overdosing on sleeping pills in 2012. Her death certificate reportedly stated she suffered from a host of mental disorders, including depression and PTSD “due to physical and sexual abuse.” The claims were backed by her brother, who revealed to Variety that his sister was never the same after the 1999 alleged sexual assault. Apparently, the news was brand-new information to Parker, who penned a lengthy Facebook post expressing his grief over his accuser’s tragic passing.

The 36-year-old filmmaker says he’s “filled with profound sorrow” over his accuser’s decision to take her own life. Still maintaining his innocence that their sex was consensual, Parker admitted wishing he had shown better judgment during his younger years, writing, “I look back on that time as a teenager and can say without hesitation that I should have used more wisdom.”

During the trial, a then-teenage Parker was also accused of tormenting his young accuser. Court documents filed by the anonymous woman’s attorney claimed Parker consistently harassed her outside of her dorm and “hurled sexual epithets at her when she walked around campus.” Soon after, the woman twice attempted to commit suicide.

Parker goes on to say in his statement that while he can’t bring his accuser “back to life,” he should’ve shown more empathy, something that maturity and being a father has now made him realize.

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 isn’t the only person speaking out. The woman’s sister has also come forward. Sharon Loeffler issued a statement revealing that her sister believed there were other victims who were sexually assaulted by Parker and Celestin. Speaking to The New York Times, Loeffler said her sister wanted other women to come forward, but that her spirit was far too broken following the rape and consequent trial. “These guys sucked the soul and life out of her.”

You can read Parker’s full statement below.

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.

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