The sister of the woman who accused Nate Parker of raping her at Penn State has written a damning column for Variety about Parker and his film The Birth Of A Nation. Parker was acquitted in the 1999 case that went to trial in 2001, though Jean Celestin, who has a story credit on Birth, received a conviction that was later overturned. Their accuser committed suicide in 2012. Now, Sharon Loeffler says that Parker and Celestin’s film “exploits” her sister in its use of the rape of Nat Turner’s wife as an inciting incident for his slave rebellion. She writes:
This is fiction. I find it creepy and perverse that Parker and Celestin would put a fictional rape at the center of their film, and that Parker would portray himself as a hero avenging that rape.
Given what happened to my sister, and how no one was held accountable for it, I find this invention self-serving and sinister, and I take it as a cruel insult to my sister’s memory.
Loeffler also challenges the stance of actress Gabrielle Union, a rape survivor who plays one in the movie. Union wrote her own essay for the Los Angeles Times in which she argued that Birth and the situations surrounding it can raise awareness around sexual violence. “That would allow my sister to be exploited all over again, and it sickens me,” Loeffler writes. “I am extremely disappointed in anyone who would use my sister’s story to advance their own fame and fortune.”
Earlier today a preview of Parker’s upcoming interview with 60 Minutes was released. Speaking with Anderson Cooper, Parker says he does not feel guilty about the events of the night of the alleged rape. As for whether he should apologize? “I was falsely accused… I went to court… I was vindicated,” he responds. “I feel terrible that this woman isn’t here… her family had to deal with that, but as I sit here, an apology is— no.” The Birth Of A Nation is due out October 7.