Nate Parker Apologizes for Being 'Tone Deaf' in Response to College Rape Allegation
By Paige Gawley
Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
Nate Parker is apologizing for his response to a past allegation of rape.
At the 2019 Venice Film Festival on Sunday, the 39-year-old actor and director spoke out about the previous rape allegation against him, which dates back to his time in college and came to the public's attention in 2016 around the time his film, The Birth of Nation, was released.
"Standing here today at 39, the reality is I was quite tone deaf... to a lot of the things that happened in the climate," Parker said at a small news conference, according to the AP. "My response obviously hurt a lot of people, frustrated and angered a lot of people and I apologize."
"I’m still learning and growing and still feeling the need to make films that speak to things that need to change in our country and the world," Parker added in reference to his new film, American Skin, which deals with police brutality. "And this topic was very dear to me."
Parker also said that he has "a lot of stories I want to tell because I feel like the world is broken."
"It is my prayer that I’ll be able to tell more stories," he said. "All I can control is what I can control. And I hope moving forward that I get that opportunity."
Spike Lee, who was at the press conference in support of both Parker and the film, called his endorsement "a move forward."
"Nate is in here. He’s not hiding. He’s answering all questions," Lee said. "This is only Nate’s second feature film, there’s a lot more in him."
Parker was acquitted in a 2001 trial after an 18-year-old female classmate at Penn State accused him and then-roommate Jean Celestin of sexual assault. The woman claimed that she was unconscious, while Parker and Celestin argued that the sexual encounter was consensual. Celestin was initially found guilty, but his conviction was later overturned on appeal. In 2012, their accuser committed suicide.
Parker once asserted that he had nothing to apologize for in reference to the allegation. "I don't feel guilty," Parker told Anderson Cooper in September 2016, before saying that he does believe his actions were "morally wrong."
"As a Christian man, just being in that situation, yeah, sure," he said at the time. "I'm 36 years old right now, and my faith is very important to me. You know, just looking back through that lens, I definitely feel like it's not the lens that I had when I was 19 years old."
"I was falsely accused… I went to court… I was vindicated," he added. "I feel terrible that this woman isn't here… her family had to deal with that, but as I sit here, an apology is -- no."
A month prior to his sit down with Cooper, Parker apologized for "acting as if I was the victim" in his initial response to the allegation and said he didn't know "very much" about consent at the time of the allegation.
"I was acting as if I was the victim because I felt like, my only thought was that I'm innocent and everyone needs to know," he told Ebony at the time. "I didn't even think for a second about her, not even for a second."
"All I can do is seek information that'll make me stronger, that'll help me overcome my toxic masculinity, my male privilege, because that's something you never think about," Parker added. "You don't think about the other people. I recognize as a man there's a lot of things that I don't have to think about. But I'm thinking about them now."
Around the same time in a lengthy Facebook post, Parker said he "may not have shown enough empathy" at the time of the alleged incident.
"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," he wrote. "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."