New Brunswick Tribune

Author Alice Sebold apologises to man accused of rape in 1981

Key takeaways:

  • Alice Sebold has issued a formal apology to the man acquitted this week in the 1981 rape that inspired her novel “Lucky.”
  • Anthony Broadwater, 61, was found guilty of raping Sebold while a student at Syracuse University in 1982. 

Alice Sebold formally apologized to the man who was acquitted this week in the 1981 rape that inspired her novel “Lucky,” saying she was struggling with the role she played “inside a system that gave an innocent man to jail.”

Anthony Broadwater, 61, was found guilty of raping Sebold while a student at Syracuse University in 1982. He was imprisoned for 16 years. His conviction was reversed on Nov. 22 after prosecutors reexamined the case and found severe errors in his arrest and trial.

Sebold, the writer of “The Lovely Bones” and “The Almost Moon,” wrote to Broadwater in a statement published to The Associated Press and later posted on Medium that she was sorry for what he’d gone through.

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“I am most sorry for the fact that the life you could have led was unfairly snatched from you, and I realize that no apology can and will ever repair what happened to you,” she wrote.

She stated in her letter, “As a traumatized 18-year-old rape victim, I decided to trust the American justice system. In 1982, my purpose was to achieve justice, not to perpetuate injustice. And certainly not to affect a young man’s life indefinitely and irrevocably by the same crime that had altered mine.”

Broadwater stated he was “relieved that she has apologized” in a statement released by his lawyers.

He continued, “That must have taken a lot of guts for her to do. It’s still terrible for me because I was unfairly convicted, but this will help me in my process of reconciling with what happened.”

In 1999’s “Lucky,” Sebold described being raped and then spotting a Black man in the street many months later who she mistook for her attacker.

Author Alice Sebold apologises to the man who was cleared of rape in 1981

Sebold, who is Caucasian, proceeded to the police station. According to an officer, the individual in the street was most likely Broadwater, who had been observed in the vicinity.

Sebold failed to identify Broadwater in a police lineup after he was caught, instead choosing a different guy as her assailant because she was afraid of “the emotion in his eyes.”

Nonetheless, prosecutors put Broadwater on trial. He was convicted partly due to Sebold’s identification of him as her rapist on the witness stand, as well as testimony that microscopic hair analysis linked him to the crime. The US Department of Justice has since labeled this style of analysis as junk science.

Broadwater, who was freed from jail in 1998, told the Associated Press last week that his conviction had been reversed by a court in Syracuse, adding that he was shedding “tears of joy and happiness.”

Simon & Schuster and its imprint Scribner announced Tuesday that they had discontinued distribution of “Lucky” in all media and were working with the author to determine how it could be altered.

Sebold, who had previously declined to comment on Broadwater’s acquittal, stated in her statement, “I am relieved that Mr. Broadwater has been vindicated, but the reality remains that 40 years ago, he was just another young Black man brutalized by our broken justice system. I shall be eternally remorseful for what happened to him.”

After being released from jail, Broadwater remained on New York’s sex offender register and worked as a trash hauler and handyman.

“It’s taken me eight days to understand how this could have happened,” Sebold, now 58, said. “I will continue to grapple with the role I unintentionally played in a system that incarcerated an innocent man. 

I’ll also have to deal with the fact that my rapist will almost definitely never be identified, may have gone on to rape other women, and will almost certainly never serve the years in prison that Mr. Broadwater did.”

Source: CTV News

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