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Nate Parker declines to apologize for college rape scandal

on October 02, 2016, 8:45pm

Birth of a Nation filmmaker Nate Parker declined to apologize for the college rape scandal that has mired his Oscar-contended film in controversy.

Appearing on 60 Minutes Sunday night, the 36-year-old Parker addressed the allegations of sexual assault brought against him 17 years ago while he was a student at Penn State University. Parker and his roommate Jean Celestin, who received a story credit for Nation, were accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious 18-year-old woman. Parker acknowledged that he did have sex with the woman, but denied that he did so without her consent. He was acquitted in a 2001 trial, but Celestin was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison. Celestin appealed the verdict, and a second trial in 2005 was thrown out due to the plaintiff not wanting to testify again.

Following the film’s premiere at Sundance earlier this year, the allegations resurfaced in the press. Subsequent reporting by Variety revealed that the plaintiff committed suicide in 2012.

“I don’t feel guilty,” Parker told Anderson Cooper; but when Cooper followed up asking if he did anything “morally wrong,” Parker responded, “As a Christian man, just being in that situation, yeah, sure. I’m 36 years old right now. And my faith is very important to me. You know, so looking back through that lens, I definitely feel like it’s not the lens that I had when I was 19 years old.”

However, Parker declined to apologize to the victim’s family. “I do think it’s tragic, so much of what happened and [what] the family had to endure with respect to this woman not being here. I don’t want to harp in this and be disrespectful of them, but at some point I have to say it: I was falsely accused. I went to court, and I sat in trial. I was vindicated. I was proven innocent, and 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.”

Asked why he continued to work with Celestin following his initial verdict, Parker responded, “The reality is Jean went to jail for something he did not do. So when it came time to write this story I said, ‘Well, you want to help with this?’”

Parker also told Cooper that he “had no idea” about the plaintiff’s suicide. “I found out in the news. I was devastated. It was shocking. I couldn’t believe it.”

Watch the full interview below.

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