Author Alice Sebold on Tuesday apologized 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 “in a system that puts an innocent man in jail.”
Anthony Broadwater, 61, was convicted in 1982 for raping Sebold while she was a student at Syracuse University. He served 16 years in prison. His conviction was overturned on November 22 after prosecutors re-investigated the case and determined there were serious flaws in his arrest and trial.
In a statement given to The Associated Press and later published on Medium, Sebold, the author of the novel Lovely bones and Almost like the moon, said that as a “traumatized 18-year-old rape victim” she chose to put her trust in the American legal system.
“My goal in 1982 was justice – not perpetuating injustice,” says Sebold. “And certainly irrevocably, and irreparably, changed a young man’s life by the very crime that changed me.”
Melissa Swartz, an attorney for Broadwater, said he had no comment on Sebold’s statement.
Sebold wrote in 1999 Lucky was raped and then a few months later discovered a Black man on the street, who she believed to be her attacker.
Sebold, who is white, went to the police. An officer said the man on the street must be Broadwater, who is believed to have been seen in the area.
After Broadwater was arrested, Sebold failed to identify him in the police squad, choosing another man as her attacker because she was afraid of “the expression in his eyes”.
But prosecutors brought Broadwater to trial anyway. His conviction was based largely on Sebold’s identification of him as her rapist in the witness stand and testimony that microscopic hair analysis tied him to the crime. That kind of analysis has been labeled as junk science by the US Department of Justice.
Broadwater, who was released from prison in 1998, told the AP last week that he cried “tears of joy and relief” after his conviction was overturned by a judge in Syracuse.
Sebold, who has not previously commented on Broadwater’s pardon, said in his statement, “I am grateful that Mr. Broadwater has finally been vindicated, but the truth is that 40 years ago he was. became another young black man brutalized by our flawed legal system. . I will forever regret what I did to him.”
Broadwater remained on New York’s sex offender registry after he was released from prison and worked as a garbage trucker and a janitor.
“It took me the last eight days to figure out how this could happen,” says Sebold, now 58. “I will continue to struggle with the role I unwittingly played in a system that puts an innocent man in jail. I will also grapple with the fact that my rapist will most likely never be known, will probably go on to rape other women, and will most certainly never go to jail in time. as Mr. Broadwater did”.