Penn State University alumni have expressed their support for The Birth of a Nation filmmaker Nate Parker, penning an open letter argues the media has "cherry-picked" the most salacious parts of the 1999 sexual assault accusations against Parker and writer Jean McGianni Celestin. The letter, published by the Root Thursday, comes from LaKeisha Wolf, Assata Richards, Lurie Daniel Favors, and Brian Favors.
"Our goal in speaking out is to provide accurate information about what really took place during that time," the letter reads. "We also hope to encourage our community to embrace as vibrant of a discussion about misogyny, misogynynoir and toxic masculinity, as we do about racism and white supremacy."
The four alumni said the death of the woman, who accused Parker and Celestin of raping her, "saddened" them,and they wished to remain "deeply respectful" of the loss's impact on her family and friends.
"We believed some 17 years ago that Jean Celestin and Nate Parker were innocent of rape and we believe that now," the letter continues. "This belief was supported by the evidence that eventually fully cleared both Mr. Celestin and Mr. Parker. Evidence that many media outlets have chosen to ignore, overlook, or mischaracterize today."
The letter also outlines 10 "key points" the Penn State alumni argue many publications have overlooked in their coverage surrounding the controversy, including allegations of racial bias from the investigators and the distribution of "misinformation" that suggested the woman's suicide was a result of depression brought about the alleged incident. Read the letter in its entirety here.
In a Facebook post following the revelation that the woman had killed herself 13 years later, Parker said he was devastated. "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," Parker wrote earlier this month. "I see now that I may not have shown enough empathy even as I fought to clear my name. Empathy for the young woman and empathy for the seriousness of the situation I put myself and others in."