Monday, August 22, 2016

Nate Parker denies rape allegations

Nate Parker denies rape allegations

Sometimes success can come back to bite you. Somewhere during his rising wave of fame thanks to “Birth of a Nation” someone leaked a long ago rape allegation story about director Nate Parker. Did he or didn’t he? The headlines insinuated.

These days, it’s not enough to be found innocent of a crime. Once your name has been connected with an allegation that can destroy your credibility and damage your brand – just like the Duke Lacrosse team. They did nothing wrong and still lost their careers over it.

So, let’s lay out the facts before we go any further in this story. Parker was charged with rape while he was a student at Penn State back in 1999. He was acquitted. Say again, he was acquitted. Found not guilty. Let go as someone who had not committed any crime.

But it was not enough for some in the complain-o-sphere that is social media. Parker was attacked, repeatedly, for being accused of something he was not legally responsible for. Here, in part, is his statement in response:

“Over the last several days, a part of my past -- my arrest, trial, and acquittal on charges of sexual assault -- has become a focal point for media coverage, social media speculation, and industry conversation,…I understand why so many are concerned and rightfully have questions…”

This is a great beginning. It openly acknowledges the elephant in the room and attempts to draw an empathetic tone by agreeing that these charges are, indeed, severe and important. Parker continues…
“These issues of a woman’s right to be safe and of men and women engaging in healthy relationships are extremely important to talk about, however difficult. And more personally, as a father, a husband, a brother, and man of deep faith, I understand how much confusion and pain this incident has had on so many, most importantly the young woman who was involved … I myself just learned that the young woman ended her own life several years ago, and I am filled with profound sorrow…I can’t tell you how hard it is to hear this news. I can’t help but think of all the implications this has for her family…”

Once again, there is not immediate denial, outrage or frustration at the questions. Parker remains empathetic, expressing concern for the family of the woman involved, who committed suicide a few years ago.

Then Parker talks about his immaturity, poor attitude at the time and his growth…

“I look back on that time, my indignant attitude and my heartfelt mission to prove my innocence with eyes that are more wise with time. I see now that I may not have shown enough empathy even as I fought to clear my name … I cannot change what has happened. I cannot bring this young woman who was someone else’s daughter, someone’s sister, and someone’s mother back to life…”

Parker never says he was innocent. He didn’t have to because the law did it for him. Instead, he talks about the need for humility and personal growth. It’s a positive message during what, for him, must be a roller coaster emotional experience.

It’s an interesting missive, and the right tone in that moment. Well done, Nate. Kudos.

David Milberg is an financial analyst in NYC.

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