the law

Man Wrongly Accused of Rape of Lovely Bones Author Alice Sebold Has Conviction Overturned

Author Alice Sebold. Photo: Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images

On Monday, November 22, four decades after The Lovely Bones author Alice Sebold accused a now 61-year-old Anthony Broadwater of rape, his conviction was rightfully overturned in court due to what the Associated Press reports as “serious flaws with the 1982 prosecution and concerns the wrong man had been sent to jail.” The author says she was raped during her freshman year at Syracuse University in a tunnel near campus. Months later, she spotted Anthony Broadwater, a Black man unrelated to the assault, and brought him to the police’s attention. On the witness stand in court, she wrongly identified him as her rapist, and Broadwater was sent to prison for 16 years. Sebold’s assault became the subject matter of her debut book, the 1999 memoir Lucky.

The case was reopened when a film adaptation of Sebold’s memoir went into pre-production and executive producer Tim Mucciante “became skeptical of Broadwater’s guilt when the first draft of the script came out because it differed so much from the book.” Mucciante hired a private investigator and a defense lawyer who found flaws in the case, including faulty forensic analysis and Sebold initially identifying the wrong man in a police lineup because they looked — to quote Lucky — “almost identical.” At Broadwater’s exoneration, District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said, “I’m not going to sully this proceeding by saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ That doesn’t cut it … This should never have happened.”

Even after he was released from prison in 1999, Broadwater lived with the stigma of rape conviction and imprisonment, saying that his place on New York’s sex-offender registry held him back from job prospects and relationships with friends and family. Sebold has not yet responded to a request for comment from the AP.

Update November 27, 7:00 p.m.: The film adaptation of Lucky has lost its financing, per Variety. Victoria Pedretti, who was set to star as Sebold, is no longer involved with the project.

Wrongfully Accused Man Exonerated in Alice Sebold Rape Case