More than 20 years after he completed a 16-year prison sentence, Anthony Broadwater of Syracuse, NY has been exonerated of the 1981 rape of Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones.
Sebold, then a Syracuse University freshman, told police officers that Broadwater reminded her of her attacker after seeing him in the street five month after she was assaulted, Complex writes. She later failed to point him out in a lineup, but testified in court that he was the man who had forced himself on her.
Broadwater tells Syracuse.com that he recalled looking around the courtroom during Sebold’s testimony and realizing that he was the only Black man in the room and that he was likely about to be convicted for a crime he did not commit.
In her 1999 memoir Lucky, Sebold described her attack and the moment she crossed paths with Broadwater. After she went to authorities, Broadwater was arrested and placed in a lineup with four other men. Sebold identified someone else as the perpetrator.
In her book, she described being told by Syracuse police officers that she had chosen the wrong person and that “the prosecutor deliberately coached her into rehabilitating her misidentification.”
In addition to his prison sentence, Broadwater remained on the New York State sex offender registry until Nov. 23 of this year, a day after he was officially cleared of his charges. As such, the now 61-year-old man says he’s found it nearly impossible to find work since his release on Dec. 31, 1998.
Broadwater always maintained his innocence and had made several efforts to have the conviction overturned, even trying to hire Johnny Cochran to represent him in his appeal.
The push that ultimately led to his release came when film exec Tim Mucciante, who had signed on as executive producer for a film adaptation of Lucky, noticed discrepancies between the book and the script. He quit the project and hired a private investigator to look into Broadwater’s innocence.
On Nov. 22, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick successfully argued alongside defense attorneys David Hammond and Melissa Swartz to have the conviction overturned, due to multiple issues with the 1982 trial.
“I’m not going to sully this proceeding by saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ That doesn’t cut it,” Fitzpatrick said. “This should never have happened. And I will say to Mr. Broadwater that I assure him that this will never happen again.”
Broadwater’s attorneys say that they intend on seeking compensation from the state for the years stolen from the man’s life.