A man convicted of the rape of best-selling author Alice Sebold was exonerated after a producer working on an adaptation of her memoir found inconsistencies in the story.
Anthony Broadwater, 61, spent 16 years in prison because of the false conviction. “I’ve been crying tears of joy and relief the last couple of days,” Broadwater said. “I’m so elated, the cold can’t even keep me cold.”
Sebold, best known for the best-selling book The Lovely Bones, was assaulted near Syracuse University in 1981, she said. She outlined the encounter in her memoir Lucky.
Tim Mucciante, who owns a production company called Red Badge Films, was hired to produce the book into a show but became skeptical when the script was so different from the book.
“I started poking around and trying to figure out what really happened here,” Mucciante said.
He stopped working on the project and hired a private investigator. From there, he got lawyers involved. Broadwater was convicted by two key pieces of evidence – Sebold identified him from the witness stand and by hair analysis, which has been identified as junk science in recent years.
“Sprinkle some junk science onto a faulty identification, and it’s the perfect recipe for a wrongful conviction,” lawyer David Hammond said.
In Lucky, Sebold wrote that she saw a Black man in the street months after her rape that she was sure was her attacker. She went to police and one officer said it was probably Broadwater. The author didn’t identify him in a lineup because “the expression in his eyes told me that if we were alone, if there were no wall between us, he would call me by name and then kill me.” However, she did identify him in court.
Broadwater said the conviction has severely impacted his life and job prospects, not to mention his relationship with family and friends. Sebold has yet to respond publicly to Broadwater’s exoneration.