Nate Parker won’t apologize for past rape allegations, despite previously acknowledging issues with consent

During his Monday appearance on Good Morning America, Nate Parker refused to apologize for the rape charges he was previously acquitted for. The writer and star of The Birth of a Nation told Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts, “I was falsely accused, I was proven innocent, and I’m not going to apologize for that.” His GMA statement echoed the sentiments expressed in his Sunday morning interview on 60 Minutes, where Parker emphasized his innocence to the host, Anderson Cooper, before going on to express sadness for his 2012 accuser’s suicide. “I do think [her death] is tragic. I was falsely accused. I went to court. I sat in trial. I was vindicated,” he said. “I feel terrible that this woman isn’t here. I feel terrible that her family had to deal with that, but as I sit here, an apology is no.”

Although an apology would likely feel like a flimsy recompense for the loss of a human being, Parker’s hard stance on the rape case and his personal innocence shows something of a contrast to his previous statements about consent. During an in-depth interview with Ebony Magazine in August, Parker got real about his rape allegations, and while he didn’t admit to raping anyone, he managed to address and admit the culture of toxic masculinity we live in.

For those uninitiated with the context, during his college attendance at Penn State back in 1999, at the age of 19, Parker and his friend Jean Celestin were accused of raping a female student. At the time, Parker was not found guilty, while Celestin was declared guilty before his conviction was overturned. In 2012, Parker’s accuser committed suicide, and this, combined with Parker’s position in the spotlight for The Birth of a Nation, caused speculation about this past to resurface.

While speaking candidly with Ebony Magazine about the allegations, Parker shared that at 19 years old, the age at which he was charged, his concept of consent was grey-area at best, admitting there was no emphasis on receiving a “yes” from a woman:

“I’ll say this: at 19, if a woman said no, no meant no. If she didn’t say anything and she was open, and she was down, it was like how far can I go? If I touch her breast and she’s down for me to touch her breast, cool. If I touch her lower, and she’s down and she’s not stopping me, cool. I’m going to kiss her or whatever. It was simply if a woman said no or pushed you away that was non-consent.”

His willingness to speak candidly and take part in the conversation both about his own charges and the general culture of consent stand in stark contrast to his brushing away of such questions during his most recent interviews. The Birth of a Nation hits theaters Friday, Oct. 7, so at this point, he is fully focused on promotion.