Woman who accused ‘Birth of a Nation’ star Nate Parker of rape is dead

Photo credit: 'rolling out' screenshot
Nate Parker (Photo credit: rolling out video screenshot)

The Birth of a Nation star Nate Parker has been in the news regarding a past claim of rape that has rocked his career and made his studio Fox Searchlight engage in a series of damage control actions.

The alleged rape occurred in 1999 while he and fellow The Birth of a Nation writer Jean Celestin were students at Penn State University. It is now being revealed that the unidentified victim of the attack died April 15, 2012 at the age of 30 of an apparent suicide.

According to S. Daniel Carter, who worked as a campus sexual assault advocate for a nonprofit group called Security on Campus, “She was tormented. It was the constant contact and fear of seeing her assailants on campus. This was long before any real guidance on sexual assault came out.”

It is being reported that the rape victim attempted suicide multiple times after the attack. Her brother, only identified as Johnny, stated to media outlets that “She became detached from reality. The progression was very quick and she took her life. If I were to look back at her very short life and point to one moment where I think she changed as a person, it was obviously that point. … The trial was pretty tough for her.  I think by today’s legal standards, a lot has changed with regard to universities and the laws in sexual assault. I feel certain if this were to happen in 2016, the outcome would be different than it was. Courts are a lot stricter about this kind of things. You don’t touch someone who is so intoxicated — period.”

Parker claimed the encounter was consensual, and he avoided a guilty verdict based the fact he had consensual sex with the victim prior to the alleged rape. However, his roommate was found guilty and served six months in prison. Celestin appealed the verdict, and a second trial in 2005 was thrown out because the victim, who had attempted suicide, didn’t want to testify again. According to court transcripts, the woman said that she was unconscious, her state of drunken stupor corroborated by a witness who chose not to participate when Parker gestured for him and Celestin to join the alleged assault. She also says she did not consent to having sex with Parker or Celestin, and claims she was stalked and harassed by Parker and Celestin after she reported the incident to the police.

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.

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