Director speaks out about rape controversy

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Director speaks out about rape controversy

NEW YORK - Nate Parker, the actor-director dealing with a 17-year-old rape case casting a storm over his new film, opened up about the incident in a new interview.

Parker spoke about understanding his male privilege and the definition of consent in an interview Friday with Ebony magazine in Los Angeles. Earlier this month, the Hollywood trade press began to run stories about a 1999 rape allegation made against Parker when he was a student at Penn State University.

Parker was charged and later acquitted. The accuser killed herself in 2012.

Earlier this month, he gave two interviews to Variety and Deadline that received much attention. He told Ebony that in those interviews he “was acting as if I was the victim, and that’s wrong.’’

Parker wrote, directed and will star in “The Birth of a Nation,’’ out this fall. The film, about Nat Turner and the slave rebellion, is already generating Oscar buzz and won top prizes at the Sundance Film Festival.

“I called a couple of [women] that (I) know that are in the space that talk about the feminist movement and toxic masculinity, and just asked questions. What did I do wrong? Because I was thinking about myself. And what I realized is that I never took a moment to think about the woman,’’ he told Ebony. “I didn’t think about [the accuser] then, and I didn’t think about her when I was saying those statements, which was wrong and insensitive.’’

Parker said that he needs to seek information that will make him stronger, “that’ll help me overcome my toxic masculinity, my male privilege, because that’s something you never think about.’’ When asked if he thought about the case in the last 17 years, he said he “hadn’t thought about it at all.’’

Though Parker was acquitted, his college roommate and “Birth’’ collaborator Jean Celestin was initially found guilty of sexual assault. Celestin appealed and it was later overturned when the accuser declined to testify for a retrial.

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