The Birth of a Nation director and star Nate Parker said again on Monday that he will not apologize for his 1999 rape case.
Speaking to Robin Roberts during Monday’s Good Morning America, Parker reiterated comments he made during Sunday’s episode of 60 Minutes. “I’ve addressed it, you know, so many times,” Parker said of the alleged sexual assault. “Did you see 60 Minutes last night? I addressed it with Anderson [Cooper] and that was the focus of the segment. Three days out, at some point … I’ve talked about it, I keep talking about it, I keep talking about it.” Asked by Roberts if he would apologize, Parker said he spoke about that with Cooper as well.
“I’m not going to go through,” he said. “I said it last night: I was falsely accused, I was proven innocent, and I’m not going to apologize for that. I feel terribly about that situation, but at some point, we’ve got to ask ourselves, like, is this a film that is important to us?”
Parker and Jean Celestin were accused of rape in 1999 by a fellow classmate at Penn State University. Parker was acquitted of the crime while Celestin was found guilty; his conviction was later overturned on account of an insufficient defense and Celestin — who has a story credit on The Birth of a Nation — was not tried again. After the case resurfaced over the summer, it was revealed the alleged victim had died by suicide in 2012.
“I do think it’s tragic, so much of what’s happened. And the fact that the family’s had to endure with respect to this woman not being here,” Parker said on Sunday night’s 60 Minutes. “But, I also think that — and I don’t want to harp on this and I don’t want to be disrespectful of them at all — but at some point I have to say it. I was falsely accused. You know, I went to court. And I sat in trial. You know, I was vindicated. I was proven innocent. And I feel terrible that this woman isn’t here. I feel terrible that her family had to deal with that. But as I sit here, an apology is, no.”
The Birth of a Nation, which made a splash at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and was acquired by Fox Searchlight for a record $17.5 million, will arrive in theaters on Friday. Watch Parker discuss the case below.