KEY POINTS

  • Anthony Broadwater spent 16 years behind bars after being convicted in 1982
  • Sebold had identified Broadwater as her rapist on the witness stand during trial
  • The 58-year-old said she was a “traumatized 18-year-old rape victim” at the time

Author Alice Sebold issued an apology Tuesday in the wake of the man convicted and jailed for raping her in 1981 being exonerated. Sebold wrongly identified Anthony Broadwater as the man who raped her while she was an 18-year-old student at Syracuse University in New York.

The 58-year-old author said she “unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail.” 

Broadwater spent 16 years behind bars after being convicted in 1982 of raping Sebold, according to NBC News. After almost four decades since the incident, his conviction was overturned on Nov. 22.

“I want to say that I am truly sorry to Anthony Broadwater and I deeply regret what you have been through,” Sebold said in a statement released to The Associated Press and later posted on Medium. “I am sorry most of all for the fact that the life you could have led was unjustly robbed from you, and I know that no apology can change what happened to you and never will.”

Sebold said she was a “traumatized 18-year-old rape victim” when the events unfolded four decades ago and resulted in a young man’s life being “irreparably” altered.

“I am grateful that Mr. Broadwater has finally been vindicated, but the fact remains that 40 years ago, he became another young Black man brutalized by our flawed legal system. I will forever be sorry for what was done to him,” Sebold said in her statement.

The author also acknowledged that her rapist may “never be known” and “may have gone on to rape other women, and certainly will never serve the time in prison that Mr. Broadwater did.”

Sebold wrote about the rape incident in her memoir, “Lucky,” and said she spotted a Black man in the street months later and believed he was the suspect. She alerted the police who then said the man in the street might be Broadwater as he was seen in the same area at the time.

Broadwater was arrested and included in a lineup, but Sebold failed to identify him that day and picked a different man. She said it was the expression in his eyes that made her pick him.

Broadwater was still tried despite Sebold failing to identify him in the lineup. 

When she took the witness stand, Sebold wrongfully identified Broadwater as her rapist. Microscopic hair analysis also linked him to the sexual attack. The Justice Department now considers this kind of analysis as “junk science.”

Broadwater was released in 1998 after spending 16 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. His name also remained on New York's sex offender registry. After his conviction was overturned last week, Broadwater said he cried “tears of joy and relief.”

He issued a statement through his lawyers and said he felt “relieved that she has apologized,” according to The Associated Press.

“It must have taken a lot of courage for her to do that. It’s still painful to me because I was wrongfully convicted, but this will help me in my process to come to peace with what happened.”

arrest Representation. Photo: Pixabay