Alice Sebold, best-selling author of the memoir “Lucky” and the novel “The Lovely Bones,” apologized Tuesday to a man wrongfully convicted of raping her in 1982 after identifying as her attacker in court.
Apology came eight days later The man’s conviction was vacated by Anthony J. Broadwater, a state court judge In Syracuse, NY, in consultation with the local district attorney and Mr Broadwater’s attorneys, he concluded that the case against him was deeply flawed.
As a result of the conviction, Mr. Broadwater, 61, spent 16 years in prison before being released in 1998 and had to register as a sex offender.
In a statement posted on the website MiddleDescribing the rape and the ensuing trial in “Lucky,” Sebold said he regretted “unwittingly” playing a role in “a system that sends an innocent man to prison”.
“I am most sorry for the fact that the life you could live was unfairly stolen from you,” she wrote. “And I know that no apology can and will never change what happened to you. It took me eight days to realize how that could happen.”
Ms. Sebold’s statement was previously reported by The Associated Press. Its publisher, Scribner, said it was not available for additional comment.
Scribner said last week that he has no plans to update his memoir based on Mr Broadwater’s acquittal. But on Tuesday, the company said it would end distribution of “Lucky” while she and Ms. Sebold “consider how the study might be reviewed”.
Mr Broadwater said in an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday that he was “relieved and grateful” for Ms. Sebold’s apology.
“It took a lot of courage, and I think he’s brave and just like me, he’s weathering the storm,” she said. “Making this statement is a powerful thing for her to do so she understands that she is a victim and that I am a victim too.”
Ms. Sebold was 18 years old and a student at Syracuse University when the rape that led to Mr Broadwater’s wrongful conviction took place.
In “Lucky,” released in 1999, she harshly describes the attack and the trauma she suffered afterwards. He also writes in detail about the case and how he was convinced that he recognized Mr. Broadwater, whom he referred to by a pseudonym in the book, as his attacker after he passed him on the street months after the rape.
The memoirs describe setbacks in the case, including the fact that a composite sketch based on the attacker’s description did not look like him. The book also describes Ms. Sebold’s fear that the prosecution might derail after she identified a different man, not Mr. Broadwater, during the police line.
He later identified Mr Broadwater as the aggressor in court. After a short trial, he was convicted of first degree rape and five other charges.
“Lucky” began Ms. Sebold’s career and also paved the way for her debut novel “The Lovely Bones,” which focused on sexual assault. It sold millions of copies and was made into a feature film.
Ms Sebold said that although she named Mr. Broadwater the fictitious Gregory Madison in her memoirs, she was forced to face the stigma of being a sex offender even after she was released from prison.
He had always insisted he was innocent and was denied parole several times for refusing to admit guilt. He ran two polygraph tests decades apart, with experts who determined his account was correct.
He tried many times over the years to get a lawyer to prove his innocence. These efforts, until recently, had been a planned failure. movie adaptation “Lucky” helped raise 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 after reading the memoir and script earlier this year, he began to doubt Ms. Sebold’s story.
Mr Mucciante said he was surprised at how little evidence was presented in Mr Broadwater’s case. He said he was fired from production after asking about the story. (It was dropped after the feature film lost its funding, Variety reported.)
“It seemed like Anthony had been wronged,” Mr Mucciante told The Times.
Mr. Mucciante hired a private detective named Dan Myers, who spent 20 years at the Sheriff’s Office in Onondaga County, NY, before retiring as a detective in 2020. wrongfully accused.
Sharing his office with a law firm, Mr. Myers recommended that Mr. Broadwater hire one of the lawyers there, J. David Hammond. Mr Hammond reviewed the investigation and agreed that there was a strong argument to set aside the conviction.
Mr. Hammond and a second attorney, Melissa K. Swartz, argued that in their move to set aside the conviction, the case was based entirely on two faulty elements: Ms. Sebold’s identification of Mr. Broadwater in the courtroom; and now a disreputable method of microscopic hair analysis.
Mr. Mucciante’s production company, Red Badge Films, is currently working with a second production company, Red Hawk Films, on a documentary about the “Unlucky” case. Mr Broadwater and those who assisted in the release of conviction are also in attendance.
In her deposition, Ms Sebold expressed regret that in seeking justice for herself, she had damaged the more than 16 years in which Mr Broadwater had been imprisoned “to be sentenced to nearly life in prison in ways that served to injure and stigmatize”.
He also seemed to be in agony over an unresolved question.
“I’ll also deal with the fact,” he wrote, “that my rapist will never be known.”