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Birth of a Nation’s Nate Parker addresses rape allegation on 60 Minutes

Nate Parker’s responses on Sunday’s episode of 60 Minutes might not come as a surprise, but they still have the power to make or break how audiences perceive him and, by extension, his latest film.

The co-writer, director and star behind the critically acclaimed movie The Birth of a Nation, about American Nat Turner’s slave rebelllion, has faced a deluge of questions regarding a rape charge he faced in 2001. It has turned the spotlight away from the film, which was even starting to acquire Oscar buzz, and onto himself.

When asked by Anderson Cooper in a teaser clip for Sunday’s interview if he felt guilty about anything that happened that night, Parker replied: “I don’t feel guilty.”

When asked if he felt he did anything morally wrong, Parker answered: “As a Christian man, being in that situation, yeah, sure.”

While Parker was acquitted of the charge, it was revealed that his accuser committed suicide in 2012, prompting more questions about what happened.

The allegation dates back to 1999, when Parker and his roommate Jean Celestin  — who has a story credit on The Birth of a Nation — were charged with raping an 18-year-old student when they were studying at Penn State. Parker was 19 years old at the time.

Sundance Diversity The Birth of a Nation

Nate Parker, right, and Armie Hammer in a scene from The Birth of a Nation, directed by Parker. The film has received much critical acclaim but its hopes for further success are threatened by a past rape allegation against Parker. (Elliot Davis/Sundance Institute via Associated Press)

Celestin was convicted of sexual assault, but that was later overturned and he wasn’t re-tried. The woman sued Penn State and was awarded a settlement out of court.

Sharon Loeffler, the sister of the accuser, told her side of the story in a guest column for Variety earlier this week.

“She went through every option she possibly could for justice, and she got none,” said Loeffler, explaining the events leading up to her sister’s suicide. “In the years that followed, Nate Parker became a well-known actor. It tormented my sister to see him thrive while she was still struggling.”

At a news conference to promote the movie during the Toronto International Film Festival in September, Parker avoided personal questions, saying he didn’t want to “hijack” the event.

When CBC News put a question to him during a sit-down interview, it was cut short earlier than planned and before Parker could give an answer.

Nate Parker interview cut short after sexual assault questions3:37

Parker did address the controversy while at a screening in Los Angeles in August.

“That type of male culture, that type of hyper-masculinity where your manhood is determined by how many women you get to say ‘yes,’ is destructive,” he told the audience Aug. 26.

The 60 Minutes episode will mark the first time in more than a month that Parker has directly answered questions about the allegation.