Here’s What You Need To Know About The Rape Accusations Against Nate Parker

Nate Parker arrives at a Sundance benefit event in Los Angeles on Aug. 11.

Willy Sanjuan / AP

Who is Nate Parker?

Nate Parker, 36, is most famous for writing, directing, producing, and starring in The Birth of a Nation, a film that tells the story of a slave rebellion in 1831 Virginia. The film debuted at the 2016 Sundance film festival and sold for a record $17.5 million to Fox Searchlight.

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The Birth of a Nation is slated for wide release in October.

Parker also has acted in a number of other films, including Red Hook Summer and Arbitrage.

What are the allegations against him?

In 1999, a woman accused Parker and Jean Celestin — who co-wrote The Birth of a Nation — of rape while they were all students at Penn State University. According to court documents, the rape happened on August 21 at an off-campus apartment. The woman was unconscious at the time of the rape, the documents added.

Afterward, the woman reportedly was “afraid and in physical and mental pain,” and went forward to police the next month. Parker and Celestin were arrested in October, 1999.

The court documents also allege that a private investigator hired by Parker and Celestin showed the woman's picture to people on campus, revealing her identity and ultimately prompting to harassment.

“After her name was made known to those with whom the investigator talked, Jane Doe was harassed on campus and was no longer able to eat or socialize in public areas,” the documents state.

The documents further allege that Parker and Celestin themselves harassed the woman despite a court order against contacting her in any way.

What happened to Parker's accuser?

The woman who accused Parker and Celestin is dead. Her brother told Variety this week that she committed suicide in 2012. She was 30 years old.

The court documents state that after the alleged rape, she “suffered severe depression, sleeplessness, and anxiety attacks. She was unable to attend classes or even leave her room.”

She later tried to commit suicide twice in 1999. Her brother told Variety that “she became detached from reality.”

What is the status of the case?

Parker was acquitted in 2001. Celestin was convicted and sentenced to six months behind bars, but the conviction was eventually overturned and sent back to court. Celestin's case never made it to a new trial, however, because the woman declined to testify again, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The woman's brother told Variety the initial trial was “tough” on her, and argued Parker “got off on a technicality.”

Following the case, Parker and Celestin were both suspended from Penn State's wrestling team, Variety reported. Parker also transferred to the University of Oklahoma.

Parker, left, discusses The Birth of a Nation during a panel discussion in Park City on Jan 16.

Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

Why is this case suddenly in the news again?

The alleged rape has been raised in multiple interviews about the upcoming premiere of The Birth of a Nation.

Speaking last week with Deadline, Parker said he anticipated the rape case coming up, but added “I will not relive that period of my life every time I go under the microscope.”

In another interview with Variety, he said described himself as an “open book” and an “advocate of justice.”

“It was a very painful for everyone who went through it,” he added of the case. “What I learned through 17 years of growth and having children and having a wife and building a family is that we have to fight for what’s right. We have to lead in love.”

Parker noted to both publications that he had been cleared of all charges.

What impact could this have on Parker going forward?

Parker has been heralded as a rising star in Hollywood and The Birth of a Nation was widely considered to be an Oscar contender.

But Variety reported Tuesday that despite Parker's acquittal, there are internal concerns at Fox Searchlight that the allegations could overshadow the film.

Fox Searchlight did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment Tuesday.

However, in a statement to Deadline, Fox Searchlight said it was aware of the incident and noted that Parker was “found innocent and cleared of all charges.”

“We stand behind Nate and are proud to help bring this important and powerful story to the screen,” the studio said.

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