On Tuesday, author Alice Sebold apologized publicly to the Black man who was exonerated last week in connection with the rape that was the subject of her 1999 memoir “Lucky.”
Anthony Broadwater, 61, was sentenced to 16 years in jail after Sebold named him as her rapist in a 1982 trial. On Nov. 22, Justice Gordon Cuffy of the New York State Supreme Court vacated the conviction.
Sebold, who had first remained mute, stated Tuesday that she is “deeply remorseful” for the years that Broadwater was “unjustly robbed.”
“I genuinely regret what you have been through,” the author said on Medium. “I know that no apology can and will ever undo what happened to you,” she said.
Last Thursday, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick joined two defense attorneys in asking for the conviction to be overturned due to concerns about the case’s prosecution nearly 40 years ago.
Broadwater was convicted exclusively on Sebold’s testimony and hair analysis, according to attorneys who filed a motion to have the case overturned.
In her apologies, Sebold stated, “As a traumatized 18-year-old rape victim, I opted to put my faith in the American legal system 40 years ago.” “In 1982, my purpose was to bring justice to the world, not to perpetuate injustice.” And certainly not to change a young man’s life for the rest of his life by committing the same act that had changed mine.”
In “Lucky,” Sebold writes about being raped by a Black man while a student at Syracuse University in 1981. Sebold saw a man she thought was her assailant some months later. When she notified the authorities, they assumed it was Broadwater, who happened to be in town at the time.
Sebold would eventually testify in court that Broadwater was the man who attacked her despite failing to recognize him in a police lineup.
Broadwater told The New York Times that he was 20 years old at the time of his arrest and had just returned home to Syracuse to be with his ailing father after serving in the Marine Corps. Broadwater’s father passed away not long after his son was sentenced to prison.
Broadwater expressed his relief and gratitude after Sebold officially apologized on Tuesday. “It took a lot of guts, and I guess she’s as brave as I am in braving the storm,” he remarked. “It’s a brave thing for her to say that, knowing that she was a victim and that I was a victim as well.”
Broadwater registered as a sex offender in New York after he went free in 1998. He told The New York Times that the stigma of his conviction made him feel he couldn’t have children.
“Lucky” was slated to become a Netflix feature until Tim Mucciante, the project’s executive producer, engaged a private investigator to investigate the events of the memoir, which he believed “didn’t hang together.”
The private investigator placed Mucciante in touch with Syracuse-based attorneys who questioned the case’s forensic evidence, particularly the hair study that allegedly tied Broadwater to the crime.
The microscopic hair analysis that resulted in Broadwater’s conviction has been rejected, according to defense lawyers J. David Hammond and Melissa K. Swartz in their motion to vacate the motion.
Netflix stated that the film adaptation of Sebold’s memoir has been canceled after the judge overturned Broadwater’s conviction.
Some Twitter users demanded that Sebold compensate Broadwater for the years he was unable to work.
Alice Sebold needs to literally pay for what she did to Anthony Broadwater.
— Majin Buu (@Jessieraee5) November 29, 2021
Alice Sebold should be forced to pay financial restitution to Anthony Broadwater. I will never look at The Lovely Bones the same way. Disgusting.
— jisoo’s ankle (@satap) November 29, 2021
Alice Sebold needs to pay reparations to Anthony Broadwater. It won’t bring back the life she stole from him, but it’s the least. Apologies, restitution. She owes so much.
Scribner and Simon & Schuster, Sebold’s publishers, are also reconsidering their earlier refusal to make adjustments. They declared on Tuesday that they will stop publishing “Lucky” and work with the author to see how the content could be improved.
The memoir went on to sell over a million copies and was instrumental in launching Sebold’s career.