Pennsylvania state investigators have started looking into whether or not Penn State University mishandled Nate Parker’s case when he was charged with and subsequenty acquitted of rape in 1999.
The review of the case comes amid the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal that rocked the school in 2011. One of the men being prosecuted for failure to report Sandusky, also played a key role in handling Parker’s case -- a reason that the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office is taking a close look.
Then a wrestling student, Parker and close friend Jean Celestin were accused and charged with raping an intoxicated female student, who later ended up committing suicide in 2012 due to the incident, according to her family. The case was eventually dismissed, with Parker acquitted of the charges. He has continued to maintain his innocence following the resurfacing of the allegations during the promotional period for his latest film, “Birth of a Nation.”
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Findings from the new investigation have led detectives to believe that school officials may have been lenient with Parker in the handling of the case, according to The New York Times. He was reinstated back onto the wrestling team while still facing trial in 2000, even though he had initially been suspended when first charged. Weeks later, a complaint was made by a female trainer that he had exposed himself to her -- a matter Penn State dropped after she did not report the incident to the police.
The new interest should not affect Parker’s past case, but it will bring more unwanted attention to a period of his life that he's recently been attempting to lay to rest.
Parker's attorneu denies that the actor had ever exposed himself to anyone. “This is the first Mr. Parker has ever heard of this,” his lawyer David J. Matlof said in an statement to the NYT. “He recognizes the seriousness of the issue, but this claim is completely untrue.”
The resurfaced rape charge completely overshadowed Parker’s “Birth of a Nation” campaign. In an early-October sit down on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper, Parker said he believed the film deserved more attention than him or the sexual assault allegation.
"I think that Nat Turner, as a hero, what he did in history, is bigger than me," said Parker. "I think it's bigger than all of us."