Alice Sebold apologizes to man wrongly convicted of raping her

Alice Sebold, the best-selling author of the memoir “Lucky” and the novel “The Lovely Bones”, publicly apologized Tuesday to a man who was wrongly convicted of raping her in 1982 after she identified him in court as his attacker.

The apology came eight days after the conviction of the man, Anthony J. Broadwater, was overturned by a judge in a state court in Syracuse, NY, who concluded, in consultation with the local district attorney and Mr. Broadwater’s lawyers, that the case against him was deeply flawed.

Following this conviction, Mr Broadwater, 61, spent 16 years in prison before being released in 1998 and was forced to register as a sex offender.

In a statement posted to the Medium website, Ms Sebold, who described the rape and the ensuing trial in “Lucky,” said she regretted that she “unwittingly” played a role in “one. system that sent an innocent person to prison “.

“I am especially sorry that the life you could have led has been unfairly stolen from you,” she wrote. “And I know that no excuse can and never will change what happened to you. It took me the last eight days to figure out how it could have happened.

Ms Sebold’s statement was reported earlier by The Associated Press. Her editor, Scribner, said she was not available for further comment.

Scribner said last week that he did not intend to update the text of the briefs based on Mr Broadwater’s exemption. But on Tuesday, the company said it would cease distribution of “Lucky” while she and Ms. Sebold “consider how the work might be overhauled.”

Mr Broadwater, in an interview with the New York Times on Tuesday, said he was “relieved and grateful” for Ms Sebold’s apology.

“It took a lot of courage, and I guess she’s brave and weatherproof like me,” he said. “To make this statement, it is a strong thing for her to do it, to understand that she was a victim and that I was a victim too.”

Ms Sebold was 18 and a student at Syracuse University when the rape that led to Mr Broadwater’s wrongful conviction occurred.

In “Lucky”, published in 1999, she gives a startling account of the aggression and trauma she suffered as a result. She also writes in detail about the trial and how she became convinced that she recognized Mr. Broadwater, whom she referred to with a pseudonym in the book, as her attacker after crossing paths with him on the street in the months after the rape.

The memoirs recount the misadventures of the case, including the fact that a composite sketch of her attacker, based on his description, did not look like him. The book also describes Ms Sebold’s fear that the prosecution could derail after identifying another man, not Mr Broadwater, in a police queue.

She later identified Mr. Broadwater as her attacker in court. After a brief trial, he was convicted of first degree rape and five other counts.

“Lucky” started Ms. Sebold’s career and paved the way for her flagship novel, “The Lovely Bones,” which also focuses on sexual assault. It sold millions of copies and became a feature film.

Although Ms Sebold gave Mr Broadwater the fictitious name Gregory Madison in memoir, he said he was forced to face the stigma of being labeled a sex offender even after his release from prison.

He had always insisted on his innocence and had been refused parole on several occasions for refusing to admit his guilt. He took two polygraph tests, decades apart, with experts who determined his story to be true.

He has tried several times over the years to hire lawyers to help prove his innocence. These efforts failed until recently, when a planned film adaptation of “Lucky” raised new questions about the case.

Timothy Mucciante, who worked as an executive producer on the film version, said in an interview with The Times that he began to doubt Ms Sebold’s narrative after reading the memoir and screenplay earlier this year.

Mr. Mucciante said he was struck by the scant evidence presented at Mr. Broadwater’s trial. He said he was fired from the production after raising questions about the story. (The feature film was scrapped after losing funding, Variety reported.)

“It looked like Anthony had been wronged,” Mucciante told The Times.

Mr. Mucciante hired a private investigator, Dan Myers, who had spent 20 years in the sheriff’s office in Onondaga County, NY, before retiring as a detective in 2020. After finding and interviewing Mr. Broadwater Mr. Myers became convinced that he had been wrongly accused.

Mr Myers, who shares premises with a law firm, recommended that Mr Broadwater hire one of the firm’s lawyers, J. David Hammond. Mr Hammond reviewed the investigation and agreed that there was a strong case for overturning the conviction.

In their motion to quash the conviction, Mr. Hammond and a second lawyer, Melissa K. Swartz, argued that the case rested entirely on two flawed elements: Ms. Sebold’s identification of Mr. Broadwater in the courtroom. ‘hearing and a now discredited method of microscopic hair analysis.

Mr. Mucciante’s production company, Red Badge Films, is currently working on a documentary on the “Unlucky” affair with a second production company, Red Hawk Films. Mr. Broadwater and those who helped overturn the conviction are also participating.

In her statement Ms Sebold expressed her sadness that in seeking justice for herself she has harmed Mr Broadwater beyond 16 years of incarceration “in a way that serves more to hurt and stigmatize, almost a life sentence ”.

She also seemed distressed by a question that remains unanswered.

“I will also struggle,” she wrote, “with the fact that my rapist will, in all likelihood, never be known.”

Comments are closed.