This story is intense (and trigger warning for sexual assault).
In 1981, author Alice Sebold was beaten and raped in a tunnel near Syracuse University, where she was a freshman. That sexual assault would form the basis of her memoir Lucky. She also wrote The Lovely Bones, about a 14-year-old high-school freshman who is raped and murdered, which would be adapted into a film by Peter Jackson. There was also a planned adaptation of Sebold’s Lucky, but when producer on that film, Tim Mucciante, noticed some discrepancies between Sebold’s memoir and the script and began to do some investigating of his own, eventually hiring a private investigator to assist in that effort.
“I started poking around and trying to figure out what really happened here,” Mucciante told the Associated Press. The private investigator put him in touch with Broadwater’s attorney, who brought in another attorney.
Last week, thanks to those efforts, Anthony Broadwater — who served 16 years in prison after being convicted of raping Sebold — had his conviction overturned. The basis for Broadwater’s conviction was flimsy. A few months after the sexual assault, Sebold saw a Black man who reminded her of her rapist. However, she was unable to identify him in a lineup, according to her own memoir. Nevertheless, she testified against Broadwater at his trial and based on her testimony and microscopic hair analysis — which, 35 years later was deemed “junk science” — Broadwater was convicted based on only those two pieces of evidence: An unreliable eye witness identification and junk science.
Broadwater, meanwhile, maintained his innocence, and because he wouldn’t confess to the crime and show contrition, he was refused release by a parole board on five separate occasions.
“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 told The New York Times. “I sympathize with her. But she was wrong.”
Broadwater, who not only lost 16 years of his life but refused to have children with the shame of the conviction hanging over his head, will finally also be removed from the sex offender registry. Financing for the adaptation of Lucky has since fallen through, and the film will not be moving forward.
“I won’t sully these proceedings by saying I’m sorry. That doesn’t cut it. This should never have happened,” the district attorney stated.
"This never should've happened."— Katrina Tulloch (@katrinatulloch) November 22, 2021
The #Syracuse rape conviction at the heart of Alice Sebold’s memoir was thrown out.
Anthony Broadwater broke down in tears as the judge overturned the 40-yr-old conviction that wrongfully put him in prison for 16 years.https://t.co/wCOoxS04Fn pic.twitter.com/SExDqqipPM
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Netflix had initially developed the adaptation of Lucky. Netflix has had no affiliation with the project.
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