Los Angeles: "The Birth of a Nation" actor- director Nate Parker has spoken after news surfaced that the woman who accused him of raping her in college 17 years ago took her own life in 2012.
The writer-director and his roommate Jean Celestin, who is also the co-writer on the movie were accused of rape at Penn State university. Parker was acquitted in a 2001 trial, but questions about the case still persist, reported Variety.
Parker, whose film revolves around a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831 and is being seen as a possible Oscar contender, expressed "profound sorrow" while maintaining his innocence in the case as he posted a lengthy statement on his Facebook.
"I write to you all devastated. Over the last several days, a part of my past my arrest, trial and acquittal on charges of sexual assault has become a focal point for media coverage, social media speculation and industry conversation. I understand why so many are concerned and rightfully have questions," he wrote on his Facebook page.
"These issues of a women's right to be safe and of men and women engaging in healthy relationships are extremely important to talk about, however difficult. And more personally, as a father, a husband, a brother and man of deep faith, I understand how much confusion and pain this incident has had on so many, most importantly the young woman who was involved.
"I myself just learned that the young woman ended her own life several years ago and I am filled with profound sorrow." Parker said while he maintains his "innocence", he feels he should have used more wisdom while fighting the case.
"As a 36-year-old father of daughters and person of faith, I look back on that time as a teenager and can say without hesitation that I should have used more wisdom.
"I look back on that time, my indignant attitude and my heartfelt mission to prove my innocence with eyes that are more wise with time. I see now that I may not have shown enough empathy even as I fought to clear my name."
A jury acquitted Parker of the charges, in part because of testimony that he had consensual sex with the victim prior to the incident. Celestin was found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to six months of prison. Celestin appealed the verdict and was granted a new trial in 2005, but the case never made it back to court after the victim decided not to testify again.
The victim's brother said his sister suffered from depression after the incident. "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," he told Variety.
"The trial was pretty tough for her," he said. The family said while they appreciate that the director and his friend are being held accountable, they would not like to get involved in the matter to protect her son.