open letters

Sister of Nate Parker’s Rape Accuser Pens Open Letter Against Birth of a Nation

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Nate Parker. Photo: Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Fox Searchlight

A week before the release of Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, Sharon Loeffler, the sister of the woman who accused Parker and his Birth of a Nation co-writer Jean Celestin of rape in 1999, has penned an open letter for Variety criticizing the film. Loeffler says she was inspired to speak out after learning that the movie includes a scene where Nat Turner’s wife is raped by a group of white men, an event that does not occur in the slim historical record of Turner’s life. “This is fiction,” she writes. “I find it creepy and perverse that Parker and Celestin would put a fictional rape at the center of their film, and that Parker would portray himself as a hero avenging that rape.” As a freshman at Penn State, Loeffler’s sister accused Parker and Celestin of raping her while she was passed out in their apartment; Parker was acquitted, while Celestin was found guilty of sexual assault but later had his sentence overturned. She committed suicide in 2012 and now, Loeffler says, “I feel a duty to speak on her behalf.”

Sister of Nate Parker Accuser Pens Open Letter