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In a public apology Tuesday, author Alice Sebold apologized to the newly exonerated Anthony J. Broadwater for the rape case that served as the basis for her memoir, “Lucky,” a New York Times bestseller. Sebold said she felt responsible for how the case was handled within a system that sent him to prison for 16 years.
Broadwater was falsely accused and convicted of raping Sebold, a then student at Syracuse University, in 1982.
His case was, however, reexamined. The court found there were serious flaws in both his arrest and trial, which led to his conviction being overturned by a judge on November 22, 2021.
Sebold expressed her deep regret for what Broadwater had gone through in a statement to The Associated Press and later posted on Medium. She addressed how she was genuinely sorry for the pain she had caused him.
“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,” she penned, adding, “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.”
Broadwater said he was relieved by her apology in a statement from his lawyers.
“It must have taken a lot of courage for her to do that. It’s still painful to me because I was wrongfully convicted, but this will help me in my process to come to peace with what happened,” his statement reads.
She described in her book “Lucky” being raped and then spotting the Black man who she thought was her assailant on the street several months later.
Sebold, a white woman, reported the Black man to the police. According to the officer, Broadwater was allegedly seen in the area during her rape. She, however, failed to identify Broadwater in a police lineup and further explained how she failed because she was frightened by “the expression in his eyes.”
Nonetheless, the innocent Black man was put on trial.
Several factors contributed to his conviction, including Sebold’s testimony where she was asked to point out the man who had raped her. She pointed to Broadwater, who was the only Black man in the courtroom.
Moreover, a microscopic hair analysis allegedly tied Broadwater to the crime, which in recent years has been declared junk science, unproven theory when presented as scientific fact in a court of law.
Broadwater was released from prison in 1998, and his life has been hard since. He was forced to register as a sex offender, which made it difficult for him to earn a livable wage. Broadwater currently works as a trash hauler and handyman.
Upon hearing the turnover of his conviction — an exoneration, Anthony Broadwater collapsed on the shoulders of his lawyers and sobbed in a wave of emotions.