Update: AFI Cancels Birth Of A Nation Screening & Nate Parker Appearance

Photo: Michael Buckner/Variety/REX.
Amidst the scrutiny surrounding Birth of a Nation director and star Nate Parker's 1999 rape charge, the American Film Institute has cancelled an upcoming screening of the film, according to Variety. Friday's screening, which was to include a Q&A, would have been Parker's first public appearance since he addressed the case in two major interviews earlier this month. Last week, Variety reported that the woman — who accused Parker and the film's co-writer Jean Celestin of having sex with her while she was unconscious, and later harassing her — killed herself in 2012.

Both Parker and Fox Searchlight (which purchased distribution rights to the film for a record sum) maintain Parker's innocence.

This story was originally posted on August 17 at 11:15 a.m.
In the wake of recent reports about Nate Parker's 1999 sexual assault case, The Birth of a Nation actor and director has responded to news that his accuser killed herself in 2012.

In a statement posted on Facebook Tuesday night, Parker wrote that he wasn't aware of the accuser's suicide, but was saddened to hear of her passing.

“I myself just learned that the young woman ended her own life several years ago and I am filled with profound sorrow… I can’t tell you how hard it is to hear this news,” Parker wrote. “I cannot — nor do I want to — ignore the pain she endured during and following our trial. While I maintain my innocence that the encounter was unambiguously consensual, there are things more important than the law.”

The woman, referred to as Jane Doe in most court documents, accused Parker and Birth of a Nation's co-writer Jean Celestin of raping her while all three were students at Penn State. Parker was acquitted of the rape charges, but the woman's suit against the school for violating Title IX (a gender discrimination law that affects federally funded colleges) alleged that both men also harassed her during and following the legal process.

The woman's brother spoke to Variety about her mental state after the rape, and in the years leading up to her suicide. "She became detached from reality," her brother, identified as Johnny, told Variety. "The progression was very quick and she took her life."

Parker's rape charge has come under new scrutiny as his film The Birth of a Nation emerges as an awards season frontrunner.

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