Nate Parker, the director of the forthcoming film The Birth of A Nation posted a statement to Facebook about the 2012 death of the woman who accused him of rape in a 1999 trial that is now coming to light ahead of the film’s release.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Parker finally broke his silence about the case and the recent publicity surrounding it Tuesday night on Facebook. According to the statement, Parker was unaware that the accuser in his trial died by suicide in 2012. He wrote:
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.
The details of the case are a part of the public record but have only come to light recently as the PR machine gears up to promote his film, which took Sundance by storm and was acquired by Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million earlier this year. With so much buzz surrounding the film and Parker beginning the promotion cycle in earnest, it was inevitable that this part of his past would come to light.
Throughout the statement, Parker maintained his innocence but expressed regret at his lack of empathy:
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.
You can read the statement in full here.