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The Birth of a Nation film rocked by Nate Parker rape case

RAPE CLAIMES: Hollywood actor Nate Parker

US ACTOR Nate Parker has spoken out amidst the media storm brewing following the revelation of a 1999 rape case that named both he and his roommate as perpetrators of a sexual assault on a fellow student.

The case has returned to the public eye ahead of the October release of The Birth of a Nation, a drama about Nat Turner's 1831 slave rebellion written, directed and co-produced by Parker who plays the lead role.

Parker took to Facebook yesterday evening (Aug 16) to say he had just learned of the death of his accuser who committed suicide in 2012 at the age of 30.

Parker wrote: “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.”

He maintained his innocence, but added that he wished he had been more empathetic at the time, writing: “There are things more important than the law. There is morality,” and adding, “I look back on that time as a teenager and can say without hesitation that I should have used more wisdom.”

The 17-year-old case dates back to 1999 when the 36-year-old actor and his roommate Jean Celestin, who has a story credit on The Birth of a Nation were accused of rape and sexual assault of a fellow Penn-State student.

The victim, whose name is not on public records, said that Parker and his roommate, Celestin, raped her while she was intoxicated and unconscious, according to court documents, and that they later harassed, intimidated and stalked her after she pressed charges.

Both men said that the sex was consensual.

While Parker was acquitted, Celestin was convicted of sexual assault, but that was later overturned when the woman opted not to testify again for a 2005 retrial. She sued the university and was awarded a settlement out of court.

On Tuesday, it emerged that the woman killed herself in 2012, overdosing on sleeping pills, according to Variety’s interview with her brother.

Also writing on Facebook, the father-of-five added he had "never run from this period in my life and I never ever will" and was not trying "to solve this with a statement".

Parker’s acclaimed historical biopic had sold for a record-breaking $17.5m (£13.5m) at this year’s Sundance film festival and had been touted as a frontrunner for next year’s Oscar award ceremony.

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