Author Alice Sebold apologizes to man cleared in 1981 rape

‘Lovely Bones’ author Alice Sebold APOLOGIZES to man she accused of rape in 1981 seven DAYS after he was exonerated and blames ‘the system’ for sending him to jail: Claims that her rapist will ‘never be known’

  • Author Alice Sebold apologized on Tuesday to Anthony Broadwater, who was convicted in 1982 of raping her when she was a student at Syracuse University
  • Broadwater, 61, served 16 years in prison and was released in 1998, but remained on New York’s sex offender registry
  • In her apology, Sebold said she was a ‘traumatized 18-year-old rape victim’ in 1982 and wrongly accused Broadwater
  • She said she put her faith in a flawed legal system after she spotted him several months after her rape and accused of him of being the perpetrator
  • Sebold also said she will ‘continue to struggle with the role that I unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail’
  • Sebold detailed the rape in her memoir Lucky 

Author Alice Sebold apologized Tuesday to the man who was exonerated last week in the 1981 rape that was the basis for her memoir Lucky and said she was struggling with the role she played ‘within a system that sent an innocent man to jail.’

Anthony Broadwater, 61, was convicted in 1982 of raping Sebold when she was a freshman at Syracuse University. He served 16 years in prison. 

The conviction was only overturned last Monday after a producer working on a Netflix adaption of the 1998 memoir noticed ‘inconsistencies’ in Sebold’s story and hired a private investigator to re-examine the case. 

In a statement released to The Associated Press on Tuesday and later posted on Medium, Sebold, the author of the novels The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon, expressed her regret in helping to convict Broadwater all those years ago.

‘First, I want to say that I am truly sorry to Anthony Broadwater and I deeply regret what you have been through,’ she wrote in her apology to the newly-freed man. 

‘I am sorry most of all for the fact that the life you could have led was unjustly robbed from you, and I know that no apology can change what happened to you and never will.

‘Of the many things I wish for you, I hope most of all that you and your family will be granted the time and privacy to heal.’ 

She added that she ‘will … grapple with the fact that my rapist will, in all likelihood, never be known, may have gone on to rape other women, and certainly will never serve the time in prison that Mr. Broadwater did.’

The private investigator who helped prove Broadwater’s innocence has since told DailyMail.com he has learned the name of a man who may be the real rapist – and is calling for the criminal case to now be reopened. 

Author Alice Sebold on Tuesday apologized to the man wrongly convicted of her rape 

Anthony Broadwater’s, center, conviction was overturned on November 22 after he served 16 years in prison. He is now 61 years old

Author Alice Sebold apologizes to man wrongly convicted in her rape – nearly 40 years later 

In a statement posted to Medium.com, author Alice Sebold formally apologized to Anthony Broadwater, 61, who was wrongly convicted in her rape in 1982.

The statement reads:

‘First, I want to say that I am truly sorry to Anthony Broadwater and I deeply regret what you have been through.

‘I am sorry most of all for the fact that the life you could have led was unjustly robbed from you, and I know that no apology can change what happened to you and never will. Of the many things I wish for you, I hope most of all that you and your family will be granted the time and privacy to heal.

’40 years ago, as a traumatized 18-year-old rape victim, I chose to put my faith in the American legal system. My goal in 1982 was justice — not to perpetuate injustice. And certainly not to forever, and irreparably, alter a young man’s life by the very crime that had altered mine.

‘I am grateful that Mr. Broadwater has finally been vindicated, but the fact remains that 40 years ago, he became another young Black man brutalized by our flawed legal system. I will forever be sorry for what was done to him.

‘Today, American society is starting to acknowledge and address the systemic issues in our judicial system that too often means that justice for some comes at the expense of others. Unfortunately, this was not a debate, or a conversation, or even a whisper when I reported my rape in 1981.

‘It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened. I will continue to struggle with the role that I unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail. 

‘I will also grapple with the fact that my rapist will, in all likelihood, never be known, may have gone on to rape other women, and certainly will never serve the time in prison that Mr. Broadwater did.

‘Throughout my life, I have always tried to act with integrity and to speak from a place of honesty. And so, I state here clearly that I will remain sorry for the rest of my life that while pursuing justice through the legal system, my own misfortune resulted in Mr. Broadwater’s unfair conviction for which he has served not only 16 years behind bars but in ways that further serve to wound and stigmatize, nearly a full life sentence.’ 

In her statement Tuesday, Sebold continued to claim that as a ‘traumatized 18-year-old rape victim,’ she chose to put her faith in the American legal system.

‘My goal in 1982 was justice – not to perpetuate injustice,’ the author, now 58, said. ‘And certainly not to forever, and irreparably, alter a young man´s life by the very crime that had altered mine.’

‘I am grateful that Mr. Broadwater has finally been vindicated, but the fact remains that 40 years ago, he became another young black man brutalized by our flawed legal system. I will forever be sorry for what was done to him.’

‘It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened,’ she wrote, noting: ‘Today, American society is starting to acknowledge and address the systemic issues in our judicial system that too often means that justice for some comes at the expense of others. 

‘Unfortunately, this was not a debate, or a conversation, or even a whisper when I reported my rape in 1981.’

‘I will continue to struggle with the role that I unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail. I will also grapple with the fact that my rapist will, in all likelihood, never be known, may have gone on to rape other women, and certainly will never serve the time in prison that Mr. Broadwater did.’

‘Throughout my life, I have always tried to act with integrity and to speak from a place of honesty,’ she continued.

‘And so I state here clearly that I will remain sorry for the rest of my life that while pursuing justice through the legal system, my own misfortune resulted in Mr. Broadwater’s unfair conviction for which he has served not only 16 years behind bars but in ways that further serve to wound and stigmatize, nearly a full life sentence.’ 

Melissa Swartz, an attorney for Broadwater, said she had no comment on Sebold’s statement.

Broadwater listened intently last Monday as Judge Gordon Cuffy overturned his conviction

He was released from prison in 1999 but has remained on the state’s public sex offender registry. In her apology, Sebold claims that she was traumatized and relied on the justice system, which, she said, is flawed

Sebold wrote in 1999’s Lucky of being raped in May 1981 then spotting a black man in the street several months later, whom she believed was her attacker. The book went on to sell more than 1 million copies and launched Sebold’s writing career.

‘This is what I remember. My lips were cut. I bit down on them when he grabbed me from behind and covered my mouth. He said these words: “I’ll kill you if you scream.” I remained motionless. “Do you understand? If you scream you’re dead.” 

The rape is described in Sebold’s book Lucky, which sold over 1 million copies

‘I nodded my head. My arms were pinned to my sides by his right arm wrapped around me and my mouth was covered with his left.’

She goes on to describe the rape in graphic detail, how she had to talk to the rapist to encourage him, telling him he was a ‘good man’ and how she wished it to be over. 

She wrote how he then apologized in tears once the attack was over, and told her she was a ‘good girl.’

Sebold describes running back to her dorm, confiding in her friends that she was just ‘beaten and raped’ in the park. 

‘My face smashed in, cuts across my nose and lip, a tear along my cheek. My hair was matted with leaves. My clothes were inside out and bloodied. My eyes were glazed,’ she said. 

Months later, she said she spotted a black man in the street and thought it was him.  

‘He was smiling as he approached. He recognized me. It was a stroll in the park to him; he had met an acquaintance on the street,’ wrote Sebold. ‘”Hey, girl,” he said. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”‘

She said she didn’t respond: ‘I looked directly at him. 

‘Knew his face had been the face over me in the tunnel.’

Sebold originally picked out a different man (far right) in a police lineup, but later identified Broadwater (second to right) in court 

The assault allegedly took place at Syracuse University in 1982, Sebold said

Sebold went to police, but she didn’t know the man’s name and an initial sweep of the area failed to locate him. An officer suggested the man in the street must have been Broadwater, who had supposedly been seen in the area.  

After Broadwater was arrested, Sebold failed to identify him in a police lineup, picking the man standing next to him as her attacker because she was frightened of ‘the expression in his eyes.’

She writes in her memoir that Broadwater and the man next to him looked similar and that moments after she made her choice, it dawned on her that she had picked the wrong man. 

But prosecutors put Broadwater on trial anyway. 

He was convicted based largely on Sebold identifying him as her rapist on the witness stand and testimony that microscopic hair analysis had tied him to the crime. That type of analysis has since been deemed junk science by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Broadwater, who was released from prison in 1998, told the AP last week he was crying ‘tears of joy and relief’ after his conviction was overturned by a judge in Syracuse.

He remained on New York´s sex offender registry after he was released from prison and has worked as a trash hauler and a handyman as Sebold’s fame skyrocketed.

By 2002, she had published The Lovely Bones – another story based on child kidnap and rape that sold over 5 million copies in the United States and grossed over $60 million in sales. It was eventually turned into a Hollywood movie starring Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci and Mark Wahlberg. 


Sebold (left) is pictured in 2018, left. Producer Tim Mucciante (right) who was working on an adaptation of her bestseller Lucky before dropping out to dig deeper into the case

Sebold’s memoir only came into question in 2019, after she signed a deal to turn Lucky, the memoir about the rape, into a movie for Netflix.

Tim Mucciante, a script writer who had signed on to the project, noticed ‘inconsistencies’ with her story and hired a private investigator, who put Broadwater in touch with J. David Hammond, of Syracuse-based CDH Law, who brought in fellow defense lawyer Melissa Swartz, of Cambareri & Brenneck.

In court, they argued that the case to convict Broadwater relied solely on Sebold’s identification of him in the courtroom and a now-discredited method of hair analysis.

They also said that prosecutorial misconduct was a factor during the police lineup because a lawyer had falsely claimed to Sebold that Broadwater and the man standing next to him were friends who looked alike and had purposely appeared together to trick her. 

The attorneys said this false claim had tainted Sebold’s later testimony and credited Fitzpatrick for taking a personal interest in the case and understanding that scientific advances have cast doubt on the use of hair analysis, the only type of forensic evidence that was produced at Broadwater’s trial to link him to Sebold’s rape. 

The movie adaptation of Sebold’s memoir has now reportedly been dropped after losing all of its financing months ago, a source close to production told Variety, which also reported that You star Victoria Pedretti is ‘no longer involved’ with the project. 

Broadwater broke down in tears after Judge Gordon Cuffy overturned his conviction

After being officially exonerated last week by Supreme Court Justice Water T. Gorman in a Syracuse court, Broadwater could be seen breaking down in tears.

‘I never, ever, ever thought I would see the day that I would be exonerated,’ Broadwater told The Post-Standard of Syracuse after the emotional hearing. 

‘The relief that a district attorney of that magnitude would side with me in this case, it’s so profound, I don’t know what to say…I’m so elated, the cold can’t even keep me cold,’ Broadwater said.  

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