The woman who accused Nate Parker and his roommate Jean Celestin of raping her while they were students at Penn State in 1999 died in 2012 at the age of 30, and according to a new interview with Variety, the woman’s brother says his sister committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills.
“She became detached from reality,” her brother Johnny (whose last name was withheld to keep his sister anonymous) told Variety, adding that she suffered from depression after she reported the rape. “The progression was very quick and she took her life.”
During the trial, the woman testified that she had attempted suicide twice, and according to her death certificate, she suffered from “major depressive disorder with psychotic features, PTSD due to physical and sexual abuse, polysubstance abuse.”
The woman, a first-year student at Penn State, accused Parker and Celestin of raping her while she was allegedly unconscious. A jury acquitted Parker in 2001, in part, because he said that he had had consensual oral sex with the woman prior.
Celestin was convicted of sexual assault but the verdict was overturned on appeal; the woman declined to testify again. “He may have litigated out of any kind of situation,” Johnny said of Parker. “My position is he got off on a technicality.”
While doing publicity for his Oscar-buzzy film The Birth of a Nation, Parker has attempted to get ahead of the story by giving what he had hoped was a definitive interview to Deadline. “I will not relive that period of my life, every time I go under the microscope,” Parker said.
Variety also reports that executives at Fox Searchlight are deciding whether or not they should roll out the film as they had originally intended. As for whether people should see the film, Johnny said, “I don’t think a rapist should be celebrated. It’s really a cultural decision we’re making as a society to go to the theater and speak with our dollars and reward a sexual predator.”