NEW YORK (AP) – Author Alice Sebold publicly apologized on Tuesday to the man who was cleared last week of the 1981 rape that was the basis of her “Lucky” memoir and said she struggled with the role she played “within a system that sent an innocent man to jail.
Anthony Broadwater, 61, was convicted in 1982 of the rape of 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-examined the case and determined that his arrest and trial were seriously flawed.
In a statement released to The Associated Press and later published on Medium, Sebold, author of the novels “The Lovely Bones” and “The Almost Moon”, wrote to Broadwater that she was truly sorry for what he had been through.
“I’m especially sorry for the fact that the life you could have led was unfairly stolen from you, and I know that no excuse can change what happened to you and never will,” she wrote. .
She wrote that “As a traumatized 18-year-old rape victim, I chose to trust the American legal system. My goal in 1982 was justice – not to perpetuate injustice. And certainly not to forever and irreparably alter the life of a young man by the very crime that had altered mine.
In a statement released by his lawyers, Broadwater said he was “relieved that she apologized”.
He continued, “It must have taken a lot of courage for him to do that. It is still painful for me because I was wrongly convicted, but it will help me in my process to come to terms with what happened.
Sebold wrote in 1999 “Lucky” about being raped and then spotting a black man in the street several months later whom she believed to be his attacker.
Sebold, who is white, surrendered to the police. An officer said the man on the street must have been Broadwater, who was reportedly seen in the area.
After Broadwater’s arrest, Sebold failed to identify her in a police line, choosing another man as her attacker because she was afraid of the “look in his eyes.”
But prosecutors still tried Broadwater, telling Sebold. He was convicted largely on the basis of Sebold identifying him as his rapist on the witness stand and testimony that the microscopic analysis of the hair had linked him to the crime. This type of analysis has since been considered an undesirable science by the US Department of Justice.
Broadwater, who was released from jail in 1998, told the AP last week he was crying “tears of joy and relief” after his conviction was overturned by a Syracuse judge.
Publisher Simon & Schuster and its imprint Scribner said on Tuesday that they had ceased distribution of “Lucky” in all formats and were working with the author to consider how it could be revised.
Sebold, who has yet to comment on the Broadwater exemption, said in his statement: “I am grateful that Mr. Broadwater has finally been vindicated, but the fact remains that 40 years ago, he has become another young black man brutalized by our faulty legal system … I will always be sorry for what was done to him.
Broadwater remained on the New York sex offender registry after his release from prison and worked as a trash hauler and handyman.
“It took me the last eight days to figure out how this could have happened,” said Sebold, now 58. “I will continue to fight the role I unwittingly played in a system that sent an innocent person to prison. I will also be grappling with the fact that my rapist will in all likelihood never be known, that he may have continued to rape other women and that he will certainly never serve the prison sentence Mr. Broadwater did.