Nate Parker is not apologizing for the 17-year-old rape case that has usurped coverage of his Oscar-buzzy film The Birth of a Nation.
Appearing on 60 Minutes Sunday, Parker made it clear that he will not apologize for something he says he did not. “I will say this. I think it’s tragic, so much of what happened and [that] the family had to endure regarding this woman not be here,” he told Anderson Cooper.
And while he still feels sorry for the family, Parker maintained his innocence. “I don’t want to harp on 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 vind— [choking up]. I was vindicated,” Parker continued. “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.”
Parker directed, co-wrote, co-produced and stars in Birth of a Nation, which hits theaters this week. He was accused of rape when he was a sophomore at Pennsylvania State University but was acquitted. “I don’t feel guilty,” he told Cooper. His roommate, Jean Celestin, who also helped create The Birth of a Nation, was found guilty of sexual assault, but the conviction was later overturned. In 2012, Parker’s accuser committed suicide.
“I had no idea,” Parker said. “I found out in the news. I was devastated. It was shocking. I couldn’t believe it.”
Although Parker said he didn’t feel guilty because he had been acquitted, he did say that he felt morally wrong. “As a Christian man, just being in that situation, yeah, sure,” he explained. “I’m 36 years old right now, and my faith is very important to me.
So looking back through that lens, it’s not the lens I had when I was 19 years old.”When Cooper asked how he felt about the possibility of people electing not to see the movie because of the controversy surrounding the film, Parker responded, “I do feel that’s unfortunate.
I think that Nat Turner, as a hero, what he did in history, is bigger than me. I think it’s bigger than all of us.”