Nate Parker is speaking out after a part of his past resurfaced and made headlines today.
While a college student at Penn State, The Birth of a Nation actor-writer-director was accused of raping a woman, but he was acquitted of the charges. And tonight, Parker has released a lengthy statement in regards to that ordeal many years ago, and the tragic news that his rape accuser committed suicide four years ago.
"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," he began his statement on his Facebook page. "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."
Parker continued, "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."
Parker recalled the event that occurred when he was 19 years old, telling fans, "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…"
He adds, "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."