Judge Clears Man Who Spent 16 Years In Prison For Rape Of Author Alice Sebold

Anthony Broadwater, who spent 16 years in prison, was cleared Monday by a judge of raping Sebold when she was a student at Syracuse University, an assault she wrote about in her 1999 memoir, “Lucky.”

Broadwater shook with emotion, sobbing as his head fell into his hands, as the judge in Syracuse vacated his conviction at the request of prosecutors.

“I’ve been crying tears of joy and relief the last couple of days,” Broadwater, 61, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “I’m so elated, the cold can’t even keep me cold.”

The memoir launched Alice’s career and, three years later, she had a hit with novel The Lovely Bones — also about rape.

After he was cleared of rape, Mr Broadwater said: “I just hope and pray that maybe Ms Sebold will come forward and say, ‘Hey, I made a grave mistake’ and give me an apology. I sympathise with her, but she was wrong.”

Sebold, 58, wrote in “Lucky” of being raped as a first-year student at Syracuse in May 1981 and then spotting a Black man in the street months later that she was sure was her attacker.

“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, who is white. “’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 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. Sebold gave Broadwater the pseudonym Gregory Madison in her book.

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Man is cleared of 1981 rape of award-winning author Alice Sebold after spending 16 years in jail

After Broadwater was arrested, though, Sebold failed to identify him in a police lineup, picking a different man as her attacker because “the expression in his eyes told me that if we were alone, if there were no wall between us, he would call me by name and then kill me.”

But on the witness stand, Sebold identified Broadwater as her rapist, and an expert said microscopic hair analysis had tied Broadwater to the crime – a method which is now discredited.

Man is cleared of 1981 rape of award-winning author Alice Sebold after spending 16 years in jail

He was found guilty after Ms Sebold identified him in court — even though she had picked another man in a police line-up — and on the evidence of microscopic hair samples

The hair analysis used is now seen as “junk science” by the US Department of Justice.

Mr Broadwater was released from jail in 1999 and was living a very squalid existence. He had remained on New York’s sex offender registry even after finishing his prison term in 1999, working as a trash hauler and handyman in the years after his release.

Last year, when the novel Lucky was being filmed for a Netflix movie, executive producer Tim Mucciante became suspicious when the script’s first draft differed so much from the book.

Even after he married a woman who believed in his innocence, Broadwater never wanted to have children.

“We had a big argument sometimes about kids, and I told her I could never, ever allow kids to come into this world with a stigma on my back,” he said.

In addition to “Lucky,” Sebold is the author of the novels “The Lovely Bones” and “The Almost Moon.”

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“The Lovely Bones,” about the rape and murder of a teenage girl, won the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award for Adult Fiction in 2003 and was made into a movie starring Saoirse Ronan, Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci.

“Lucky” was also in the process of being filmed, and it was thanks to the film project itself that Broadwater’s conviction was overturned after four decades.

Tim Mucciante, who has a production company called Red Badge Films, had signed on as executive producer of the adaptation but became skeptical of Broadwater’s guilt when the first draft of the script came out because it differed so much from the book.

Man is cleared of 1981 rape of award-winning author Alice Sebold after spending 16 years in jail

District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, he was “not going to sully this proceeding by saying, ‘I’m sorry’.”

“That doesn’t cut it… This should never have happened,” he added.

roadwater spent his life insisting he is innocent and tried five times to get the conviction overturned before Monday’s decision.

“I never, ever, ever thought I would see the day that I would be exonerated,” he said.

“When he spoke to me about the wrong that was done to me, I couldn’t help but cry.

“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.”

Earlier this week, Broadwater told how the conviction destroyed his job prospects and his relationships with family and friends.

“On my two hands, I can count the people that allowed me to grace their homes and dinners, and I don’t get past 10,” he told the New York Times.

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“That’s very traumatic to me.”

Although he married a woman who believed in his innocence, Mr Broadwater said he decided against having children because he didn’t want his conviction to ruin their lives.

“We had a big argument sometimes about kids, and I told her I could never, ever allow kids to come into this world with a stigma on my back,” he said.

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