Nate Parker Says He Has Nothing to Apologize for Regarding 1999 Rape Case: 'I Was Falsely Accused'
By Jennifer Drysdale
Nate Parker is opening up about his past.
The 36-year-old actor, who wrote, directed, and stars in the much buzzed-about The Birth of a Nation, sits down with Anderson Cooper in a new interview for 60 Minutes to discuss the upcoming film and the recent headlines surrounding his 1999 rape case.
Parker was acquitted in a 2001 trial after an 18-year-old female classmate at Penn State accused him and then-roommate Jean Celestin (who co-wrote The Birth of a Nation) of sexual assault. Celestin was initially found guilty, but his conviction was later overturned on appeal.
"Do you feel guilty about anything that happened that night?" Cooper asks Parker in a preview clip from the interview.
"I don't feel guilty," Parker simply states, before admitting that he does believe his actions were "morally wrong." "As a Christian man, just being in that situation, yeah, sure," he says. "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."
In 2012, 13 years after the allegations, Parker's accuser committed suicide. "I had no idea. I had absolutely no idea. I found out in the news," he tells Cooper. "I was devastated. It was shocking. I couldn't believe it."
Still, Parker asserts he has nothing to apologize for. "I was falsely accused… I went to court… I was vindicated," he says. "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."
Meanwhile, Variety published on Thursday a guest column written by the accuser's sister, in which she details her sister's experience throughout the rape trial, and calls for the removal of the rape scene in The Birth of a Nation.
"As her sister, the thing that pains me most of all is that in retelling the story of the Nat Turner slave revolt, they invented a rape scene. The rape of Turner's wife is used as a reason to justify Turner's rebellion," she writes."This is fiction. I find it creepy and perverse that Parker and Celestin would put a fictional rape at the center of their film, and that Parker would portray himself as a hero avenging that rape."
"Given what happened to my sister, and how no one was held accountable for it, I find this invention self-serving and sinister, and I take it as a cruel insult to my sister's memory," she continues. "I think it's important for people to know Nat Turner's story. But people should know that Turner did not need rape to justify what he did. Parker and Celestin did not need to add that to Turner's story to make him more sympathetic."
Parker's 60 Minutes interview will air on Sunday, Oct. 2 on CBS.