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After decades of maintaining his innocence, 61-year-old Anthony Broadwater has finally been cleared in the rape of The Lovely Bones, author Alice Sebold.
According to the New York Times, Broadwater was exonerated of the sexual assault charges in New York State Supreme Court on Monday. The man had spent over 16 years in prison for the alleged crime, which took place in 1981 in a Syracuse, New York park. The rape was described in Sebold’s 1999 memoir Lucky, which was published just a year after Broadwater’s release.
“It’s a long day coming,” told the Times shortly after his conviction was overturned. “On my two hands, I can count the people that allowed me to grace their homes and dinners, and I don’t get past 10. That’s very traumatic to me.”
Sebold was a freshman at the University of Syracuse when the rape took place. About five months later, she reportedly saw Broadwater on the streets of Syracuse and subsequently told police he reminded her of her attacker. And although Sebold reportedly failed to identify Broadwater in a police lineup, she later identified him as the assailant in court.
According to her attorney’s affirmation, Lucky included claims that a detective and a prosecutor told Sebold she had picked the wrong man in the lineup, and that “the prosecutor deliberately coached her into rehabilitating her misidentification.”
Though he had passed to lie detector tests, Broadwater was found guilty of rape in 1982—a conviction based on Sebold’s account and an unreliable method of microscopic hair analysis.
“I won’t sully these proceedings by saying I’m sorry,” District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said in court. “That doesn’t cut it. This should never have happened.”
Renewed efforts to clear Broadwater’s name came during the planning phase of Lucky film adaptation. According to the Times, Tim Mucciante had signed on to executive produce the project, but began noticing discrepancies between the script and Sebold’s memoir. Mucciante eventually left the project due to his skepticism, and hired a private investigator and a legal team to revisit Broadwater’s case.
“I started having some doubts, not about the story that Alice told about her assault, which was tragic, but the second part of her book about the trial, which didn’t hang together,” he told the Times.
In addition to having his charges overturned, Broadweater will no longer be on the sex offenders list. Sebold has yet to publicly comment on the court’s decision.
“I just hope and pray that maybe Ms. Sebold will come forward and say, ‘Hey, I made a grave mistake,’ and give me an apology,” Broadwater said. “I sympathize with her. But she was wrong.”
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