Entertainment journalists produced a shocking new allegation against filmmaker Nate Parker Monday night in their retrial of his 1999 rape case. Parker, they insinuated, was responsible for the suicide of a woman who accused him of sexual assault — apparently because she was so distraught that the justice system concluded he was not guilty.
Reporters from Variety and Deadline Hollywood have led the witch hunt against Parker — co-writer, director, and star of the upcoming slave uprising film The Birth of a Nation — by suggesting that he was acquitted of this rape charge because turn-of-the-Millennium America was not as enlightened about sexual assault as it is today. Therefore, they continue to sabotage his breakout film’s marketing campaign with weasel-worded rationales like “questions persist” or “[Parker’s] trial is being re-examined now because of the public attention on ‘The Birth of a Nation.'” [Passive voice is how a journalist says “I really want to hurt this guy but I need the cover of writing on behalf of someone else.”]
On Monday, Variety‘s New York Bureau Chief Ramin Setoodeh published an exclusive interview with the woman’s brother, declining to give his full name, and revealing that she took her own life in 2012 — eleven years after Parker’s acquittal and seven years after she refused to participate in a retrial for Jean Celestin, Parker’s roommate who was acquitted of rape but convicted of sexual assault, then sentenced to six months in prison.
The woman’s brother, identified as “Johnny,” says that he thinks a jury would find Parker guilty today. He also reveals that his sister had moved on enough with her life to start her own family.
The brother believes that if the trial had been held today, there would have been a different verdict. “I think by today’s legal standards, a lot has changed with regards to universities and the laws in sexual assault,” he said. “I feel certain if this were to happen in 2016, the outcome would be different than it was. Courts are a lot stricter about this kind of thing. You don’t touch someone who is so intoxicated — period.”
After the trial, the victim left college before graduating, and received a settlement from Penn State of $17,500. “She was trying to find happiness,” Johnny said. “She moved around frequently and tried to hold a job. She had a boyfriend. She gave birth to a young boy. That brought her a good bit of happiness. I think the ghosts continued to haunt her.”
Unfortunately for “Johnny,” Parker cannot be tried twice for the same crime. And, while today’s hyper-PC attitudes toward sexual assault and consent have evolved dramatically, so have attitudes about race and privilege. It is a huge testament to the justice system that in 2001, Parker — young, black, poor, and not connected to powerful people — was found not guilty. In 2016, the social justice biases of a typical jury would likely contribute just as much sympathy to both Parker and his accuser. And, as Breitbart will soon examine (since Variety and Deadline have appointed themselves Parker’s prosecution), the facts of the trial exist in a gray area similar to modern high-profile cases like Emma Sulkowicz and Paul Nungesser.
“Johnny” says nothing about a possible civil lawsuit. Since no one is taking legal action to pursue justice for the late young woman, the clear intention of this narrative is to introduce a meme that will taint Parker’s reputation. Street artist Sabo is already altering TBOAN film posters to read “Rapist?” The Nate Parker news cycle feels a lot like an oppo dump from a political campaign — with a clear parallel in the 2012 campaign ad blaming Mitt Romney for a woman’s death from cancer.
Parker posted a note to Facebook Monday night responding to the innuendo from Variety:
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.