The Guardian

Conviction overturned in US rape case chronicled in Sebold’s book


A rape conviction at the centre of a memoir by the award-winning author, Alice Sebold, has been overturned because of what authoritie­s determined were serious flaws with the 1982 prosecutio­n and concerns the wrong man had been sent to jail.

Anthony Broadwater, who spent 16 years in prison, was cleared on 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.

“I never, ever, ever thought I would see the day that I would be exonerated,” Broadwater, 61, said.

The Onondaga county district attorney, William Fitzpatric­k, told state supreme court justice Gordon Cuffy at the court hearing that Broadwater’s prosecutio­n was an injustice.

“I’m not going to sully this proceeding by saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ That doesn’t cut it,” Fitzpatric­k said. “This should never have happened.”

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. She gave Broadwater the pseudonym Gregory Madison in her book.

After Broadwater was arrested, though, Sebold failed to identify him in a police lineup. Broadwater was nonetheles­s tried and convicted in 1982 based largely on two pieces of evidence. On the witness stand, Sebold identified him as her rapist. An expert also said microscopi­c hair analysis had tied Broadwater to the crime. That type of analysis is now considered junk science by the US Department of Justice.

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

Lucky was in the process of being adapted for Netflix and it was thanks to the film project that Broadwater’s conviction was overturned after the executive producer, Tim Mucciante, became sceptical of Broadwater’s guilt when the first draft of the script differed so much from the book.

 ?? ?? ▲ Anthony Broadwater, centre, was cleared of raping Alice Sebold, pictured top. He served 16 years
▲ Anthony Broadwater, centre, was cleared of raping Alice Sebold, pictured top. He served 16 years

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