Director Nate Parker’s 1999 rape case is still making headlines

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LOS ANGELES —  It's hard to escape your past.  Just ask Nate Parker.

The successful actor and director was charged with rape 17 years ago while attending Penn State.  He was acquitted.

But in the court of public opinion, he's still on trial even in 2016.

Just as his latest film project is in the spotlight, so is this very dark period in his life.  The 1999 case is causing social media speculation and entertainment industry gossip.

Four years ago, his accuser committed suicide. Something Parker said he just recently found out. On Facebook he writes, “I understand why so many are concerned and rightfully have questions.”

He says he does not want to “ignore the pain she endured during and following our trial.” And he continues to maintain his innocence. “The encounter was unambiguously consensual.”

Parker is the producer, director and star of Birth of a Nation which will be in theaters this fall.  He co-wrote the film with his college roommate, Jean Celestin.  But the two may also have been partners in crime. Both men were accused of raping the then 18-year-old student at Penn State who was drunk at the time. Celestin was convicted, but his conviction was reversed on appeal.

On Facebook Parker says he's never run from this period in his life and never will. Married now, with five daughters, Parker urges his Facebook followers to accept his letter as a “response to the moment.”