Conviction overturned for rape of ‘Lovely Bones’ author 40 years later.
A conviction for the rape of Alice Sebold, the award-winning author of “The Lovely Bones,” was overturned 40 years later due to serious errors by the prosecution, authorities said.
Anthony Broadwater, 61, was acquitted Monday by New York Supreme Court Justice Gordon Cuffy of the charges of assaulting Sebold when he was an 18-year-old freshman at Syracuse University in 1981. Sebold, now 58, wrote about the attack in his 1999 memoir, “Lucky.”
Sebold chose another man, not Broadwater, in a police lineup after the assault, but later identified Broadwater as his attacker on the witness stand.
She wrote in “Lucky” that Broadwater and the other man in the lineup looked “nearly identical” and that she feared a defense attorney would exploit a white woman’s confusion over two black men.
Broadwater spent 16 years in prison and had been on the New York sex offender registry since his release in 1999. He will now be removed from that list.
Broadwater dropped his head in his hands and sobbed when the judge acquitted him. (See the video above). “I never, ever thought I would see the day I would be exonerated,” he said after the hearing.
“I’ve been crying tears of joy and relief the last few days, ”Broadwater told The Associated Press the next day. “I’m so elated that even the cold can’t keep me cold.”
He told The New York Times: “I just hope and pray that maybe Ms. Sebold will come up and say, ‘Hey, I made a big mistake, ‘and excuse me. “I sympathize with her. But she was wrong. ”
Broadwater recounted the damage the conviction had on his life, even after his release from prison. He refused to have children because of the stigma of the conviction, he told the Syracuse Post-Standard.
At his hearing, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick called Broadwater’s conviction an injustice.
“I’m not going to smear this procedure by saying ‘sorry,'” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s not enough. This should never have happened. ”
Broadwater was convicted in large part because of Sebold’s identification and because an expert witness testified that microscopic analysis of the hair had linked him to the rape. Since then, the Justice Department has ruled out the validity of such an analysis. That was the only alleged forensic link to the crime.
Scrutiny of the case against Broadwater increased after “Lucky” was picked up in 2019 for a Netflix movie.
Executive producer Tim Mucciante began to question the conviction as he pored over the script and Sebold’s memoirs. He eventually left the project and hired a private detective in an investigation that ended in Fitzpatrick’s office. It is unclear what will happen to the film now.
Sebold, who lives in San Francisco, could not be reached for comment.
His most notable novel, “The Lovely Bones,” is about the rape and murder of a teenage girl. The bestseller was made into a movie in 2009.