Innocence

Best-Selling Author Alice Sebold Apologizes to Innocent Man Who Served 16 Years for Her Rape

Her publisher will stop distributing her memoir Lucky, which detailed the attack and aftermath.

|

On Wednesday, The Lovely Bones author Alice Sebold apologized to the innocent man who ended up imprisoned for 16 years for her rape 40 years ago. Her publisher has also announced that it will stop distributing her 1999 memoir, Lucky, which detailed the crime.

Sebold was beaten and raped in 1981 while she was a freshman at Syracuse University. She identified Anthony Broadwater, now 61, as her attacker. Broadwater was convicted and spent 16 years in prison. After his release in 1999, he was placed on New York's sex offender registry.

But he was innocent. Broadwater was a victim of Sebold's misidentification, as well as some sketchy microscopic hair analysis now deemed to be junk science. Broadwater's conviction was officially overturned on November 22 and he will have his name stricken from the sex offender registry.

At the time of Broadwater's exoneration, the Syracuse Post-Standard reached out to Sebold for comment but she didn't respond. On Wednesday, she broke the silence in a Medium post, apologizing for what happened to Broadwater but also acknowledging that "no apology can change what happened to [him] and never will."

She explains that she has spent the days since Broadwater's exoneration reckoning with what happened:

Today, American society is starting to acknowledge and address the systemic issues in our judicial system that too often means that justice for some comes at the expense of others. Unfortunately, this was not a debate, or a conversation, or even a whisper when I reported my rape in 1981.

It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened. I will continue to struggle with the role that I unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail. I will also grapple with the fact that my rapist will, in all likelihood, never be known, may have gone on to rape other women, and certainly will never serve the time in prison that Mr. Broadwater did.

Her recognition that her actual rapist was never punished hits at the double-pronged injustice whenever a prisoner is later shown to be innocent. Not only was Broadwater's life ruined, but Sebold also didn't get justice. The prosecution of Broadwater is a microcosm of so many issues with the way the U.S. prosecutes crimes and the zealousness that transforms the drive for justice into a need to hold somebody accountable.

In Sebold's case, she actually identified somebody else as her attacker during a police lineup, highlighting a consistent problem that leads to false convictions. Eyewitness accounts are and remain a central feature of prosecutions, but studies show that they're prone to manipulation and nudging from friendly police. DNA tests have cleared people whom witnesses had previously identified as attackers.

The discredited science behind the use of Broadwater's hair to convict him speaks to the faulty forensics techniques that have led to many, many bad convictions. Broadwater was convicted in 1981 partly on the basis that microscopic analysis of hair at the scene was similar to Broadwater's, though there was a chance it could have been somebody else's. It wasn't until 2015 that the FBI acknowledged that this was junk science. In potentially thousands of cases prior to the year 2000, the FBI's hair forensics experts were giving flawed testimony overwhelmingly intended to help convict defendants.

Neither Sebold nor Broadwater is alone here, and even as Sebold apologizes, she was also let down by a justice system that wanted a frightened young woman to have a better memory than she did and a forensics expert who was more certain than he realistically could have been.

NEXT: The Laissez Faire Origins of the Supreme Court’s Abortion Precedents

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Was it really Brett Kavanaugh?

    1. Well, I was thinking of Kennedy, a different last name that starts with a K, but that one's dead and probably just as bad a white supremacist white male cis-het-normative-gender-influid-white-rapist, so let's go with K-avanaugh.

      1. I am making a good salary from home $1200-$2500/week , which is amazing, under a year back I was jobless in a horrible ADt economy. I thank God oy every day I was blessed with these instructions and now it’s my duty to and pay it forward and share it with And Everyone, Here For MORE INFO PLEASE Just check this SITE....... Visit Here

    2. Concidering Kavanaugh was probably 100 miles away at the time I would say yes, thanks to his powers of teleportation and time travel

      1. And being able to hypnotize a victim into thinking he’s black.

    3. Make money online from home extra cash more than $18k to $21k. Start getting paid every month Thousands Dollars online. I have received $26K in this month by just working WDs online from home in my part time. Every person easily do this job by

      just visit.............BizProfit

  2. Today, American society is starting to acknowledge and address the systemic issues in our judicial system that too often means that justice for some comes at the expense of others. Unfortunately, this was not a debate, or a conversation, or even a whisper when I reported my rape in 1981.

    OK, I want to give Sebold the benefit of the doubt about falsely accusing a man of rape and getting caught up in the ensuing injustice, but fuck her with a rusty garden tool for asserting that no one had ever heard of Blackstone's Ratio until BLM and CRT were invented.

    1. falsely mistakenly

      1. I'm still struggling with the "mistakenly" when people involved in her memoir Lucky were seeing inconsistencies in her story.

        1. Admittedly, I haven't read one sentence of her work, but a memoir isn't a deposition. As long as as the rapist in the memoir isn't named Tony Boardwater or Antoine Widewasser I don't see the distinction between hers and any other published rape fantasy.

          The involvement of law enforcement makes me dubious that this is a Coakley story. She said she was beaten and raped, evidence was collected and someone was arrested. I assume somebody documented bruising, or worse, from the attack and showed up to what looked like a crime scene, which was also documented, to collect the hair fibers.

          Being fair, I'd freely admit/agree that she suffered buyer's remorse and/or just tossed herself down a flight of stairs and the police produced evidence to support a rape conviction but, AFAIK, nobody's alleging such, much less putting forward any evidence.

          Still, fuck her with a moldy cucumber for acting like BLM invented Blackstone's Ratio.

          1. After leaving my previous job 12 months ago, i've had some good luck to learn about this website which was a life-saver for me... They offer jobs for which sdo people can work online from their house. My latest paycheck after working for them for 4 months was for $4500... Amazing thing about is that the only thing required is simple typing skills and access to internet...Read all about it here... Visit Here

  3. She apologizes, because she really has no choice but to do so. But notice how quickly she shifts the focus to "the systemic issues in our judicial system that too often means that justice for some comes at the expense of others," and which are *really* to blame. She hopes we will ignore the fact that the biggest element of her case that led to "justice . . . at the expense of others" was her own false testimony. Had it not been for that (and for the jury's wish to "believe women"), Broadwater would almost certainly have been acquitted.

    1. The narrative mustn't be allowed to fail.

    2. I was coming to the comments to say pretty much this. It wasn't the systemic issues in the judicial system that pointed the finger at Broadwater. It wasn't some trucker in Sheboygan or some frat boy in Jacksonville. It was Alice Sebold. And, even now, when the evidence is she wrongfully accused someone, the fact that she still dances around the fact that she, personally, helped ruin an innocent man's life tells me she's a horrible person, an awful excuse for a human being. And the fact that she talks about what happened as "justice for some" confirms that. It certainly suggests to me that she looks at it as though as long as some man got punished, that was justice. And, bluntly, the fact that she went on to have a successful career, at least in part from the story of her rape, while an innocent man rotted in prison for it makes her non-apology apology ring hollow.

      1. Find USA Online Jobs (800$-95000$ Weekly) safe and secure! Easy Acces To Information. Simple in use. All the Answers. Multiple sources combined.HJk Fast and trusted. Discover us now! Easy & Fast, 99% Match. ..
        GOOD LUCK......VISIT HERE

    3. "...was her own false testimony..."

      In neon, above her front door, lit 24/7/365.

    4. " But notice how quickly she shifts the focus to "the systemic issues in our judicial system that too often means that justice for some comes at the expense of others"

      Very much this. Such absolute BS. The only allowed response should be for her begging, with tears in her eyes, kneeling at this man's feet, for his forgiveness that she will never deserve. She robbed a person of their life and livelihood and has the gall to spin this as problems with our judicial system. Bitch you directly put this man in jail!

      But hey, she got to remain a free prosperous person with a career out of this, so she likely wont learn anything from it.

    5. But notice how quickly she shifts the focus to "the systemic issues in our judicial system that too often means that justice for some comes at the expense of others,

      And she is right: there is a "systemic issue". The systemic issue is that women like her get away with what she did without consequences.

      The way to fix that systemic issue is to hold her accountable for what she did.

    6. The woman who put an innocent man in prison for 16 years by identifying him as her rapist should pay reparations.

  4. She and the publisher should return any and all monies received from her memoir to her victim.

    1. I don't know about any and all. But he definitely should get a cut.

      1. According to Wikipedia:

        The prosecutor had also lied to Sebold, telling her that the man she identified in the lineup and Broadwater were friends and that they both came to the lineup to confuse her; attorneys argued that this falsehood had influenced Sebold's testimony.[5] Sebold also wrote in Lucky that the prosecutor had coached her into changing her identification.[4] Sebold has apologized to Broadwater after his exoneration.[14]

        Sebold owes a non-trivial fraction of royalties. The Prosecutor owes 16 yrs. of his own pay and should be, himself imprisoned until proven innocent.

        1. Doesn't the prosecutor get immunity?

        2. I agree about the prosecutor.

          To be honest I think anyone who seeks out the job of prosecutor should be preemptively put in prison for being a malicious piece of mendacious shit, while the job should be selected by lottery.

          Heck, if I had my way all government positions of power would be selected by lottery. With the caveat that anyone who wants the job should be jailed

    2. Yeah I'm willing to cut her some slack here for the apology and for pulling the book. On the other hand it seems like she made out pretty well selling her story and if the evidence was as thin as it appears, including her fingering somebody else, I find it hard to believe she never had any doubts while the checks rolled in. I think some compensation to her victim would be appropriate.

      1. Yeah, like sue her, her homeowner's policy and everything else he can find until she eats at a soup kitchen.

      2. Sebold has a moral obligation to help restore Broadwater's life, to make him whole. It is not enough to merely apologize, IMO.

    3. She should throw him a free rough fuck too.

  5. You mean her alleged rape?

    1. LOLfacepalmLOL

    2. She seems to have made a pretty good living off of rape.

      1. She has raped the benefits of that narrative.

  6. Inside Australia's covid internment camps.

    It's terrifying and hilarious at the same time.

    Camp guards walking around in face shields, surgical masks and paper smocks to protect them from a disease with a >99% survivability.

    1. Internment camps? According to the comments they're concentration camps. Where people are sent to be murdered. Because that's what they are. I mean, quarantining people is the exactly the same thing as rounding up Jews to be murdered. Can't you get anything right?

      1. So it's okay to forcibly remove people from their homes and place them in government facilites for "public safety," as long as you're not outright murdering them?

        Japanese-Americans would like a word.

        1. The important part is he is against conservatives in all their actions. Even the many that are actually libertarian... like not having government forced camps.

        2. Japanese-Americans would like a word.

          But sarcasmic still swears he's a libertarian.

      2. The killings are a later stage, but will inevitably happen. Maybe not in Australia, but they will.

        1. You know sarcasmic didn't even watch Paul's video before he spouted off. He's such a fascist little authoritarian-simping puke.

          Just utterly dispicable.

      3. I get a pass until my 2016 investment in cattle cars pays out.

        1. Always lease, never own.

    2. If you're talking about a card game, or some other gamble where you stand to lose fifty bucks, 99% is great odds. If you're talking about lives, it's lousy.

      Imagine you are an airplane with 99 other people. One of you will be randomly chosen to be thrown out the plane a thousand of feet in the air. Would you be at all concerned? If whatever maniac was going to throw someone out of the plane was less likely to do so if you wore a face mask for some reason, wouldn't you do it? That is what a 99% survival rate is.

      A 99% survival rate is really, really bad odds. In a country with 300 million people that would be 3 million people dead. Even if the survival rate was 99.9%, that's 300,000 people dead! On a personal level, most humans can maintain about 150 stable relationships. 99% odds means you're pretty much guaranteed to lose one person you know and have a 50% chance of losing another!

      And at least in the aforementioned card game you stand to gain a lot of money or something else valuable for facing those 99% odds. By contrast if you don't get vaccinated or don't wear a mask, you gain pretty much nothing except getting to avoid some mild inconvenience and a chance to virtue signal. Virtue signaling is bad, it's bad when liberals virtue-signal compassion, and it's equally bad when conservatives virtue-signal courage and toughness.

      The sheer lack of basic math skills shown by people who poo-poo COVID precautions is galling. It is a national embarrassment that people are so statistically illiterate.

      If you want to mock the camp guards for violating people's civil liberties, go ahead, I'll gladly join you. But don't mock people for taking sensible safety precautions instead of virtue signaling.

      1. Go get a booster and double-mask, Covid-queer.

      2. Since you want to get technical, the survival rate is more like 99.84%.

        1. And that's the lower, verified/verifiable estimate.

      3. I offer an alternative to forcibly removing people from their homes and forcing them to quarantine in government camps:

        How about you voluntarily go to the camp and quarantine yourself, and leave everyone else alone?

      4. If you're talking about a card game, or some other gamble where you stand to lose fifty bucks, 99% is great odds.

        In every two-player card game, assuming absolute ignorance, there's a 50% chance of losing. In every life, regardless of ignorance, there's a 100% chance of dying.

        Getting vaccinated to wind up dying of inoperable cancer ain't the same as getting a hot hand and then hitting a cold streak either.

      5. What you ignore is that the odds with Covid-19 heavily disfavor fat people, very old people, and people who are already within the last month of their lives.

        While is 99.0000000% survivable for everyone generally, it’s 99.99999999% survivable for everyone who’s not obese, over 75, and on medication for an immune system issue.

      6. Three problems:

        First, you are begging the question of whether your beloved safety precautions are indeed “sensible,” i.e. whether they do anything meaningful to reduce your risks.

        Second, you completely ignore the main issue of whether it is okay to force OTHER people to follow them.

        Third, your analogy is inapt. In your analogy, you should actually hope that the others on the plane do not wear masks because that will increase the chances that the psycho chooses to kill one of them instead of you. And more concretely, wearing a mask for the duration of a plane ride is not comparable to wearing one for 2 (or 3 or 10?) years.

  7. "Today, American society is starting to acknowledge and address the systemic issues in our judicial system that too often means that justice for some comes at the expense of others. Unfortunately, this was not a debate, or a conversation, or even a whisper when I reported my rape in 1981."

    The *seventeenth-century* English Judge Matthew Hale said that rape "is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, tho never so innocent."

    Hale has been vilified for this to this very day -

    https://www.yalelawjournal.org/feature/campus-sexual-assault-adjudication-and-resistance-to-reform

    Maybe someone should apologize to *him.*

  8. Meanwhile
    https://www.zerohedge.com/covid-19/twitter-slaps-unsafe-label-american-heart-association-mrna-vaccine-warning
    Twitter Slaps 'Unsafe' Label On American Heart Association mRNA Vaccine Warning

    1. In b4 Tony swoops in to tell us that the American Heart Association are just some MAGA bumpkins practicing scare tactics, and should be censored until Anderson Cooper says differently.

      Then he'll shout "Science!"

  9. "It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened. I will continue to struggle with the role that I unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail."

    This doesn't really sound like an apology. This feels like more on par with the "I'm sorry you're angry" line of responses. Sorry she accused you of rape and sent you to jail for 16 years dog, but she's just a victim of the system!

  10. she was also let down by a justice system that wanted a frightened young woman to have a better memory than she did and a forensics expert who was more certain than he realistically could have been

    Let's not forget the corrupt cops that will just grab the nearest likely-looking suspect and figure out how to frame him for the crime because they know he's guilty of something and they want an easy way to close out the case file, the corrupt prosecutor who will do whatever it takes to get a win, including lying and withholding evidence and suborning perjury because he figures if the defense attorney really wanted to win he should have cheated better, and the corrupt judge (who is likely a former prosecutor) who knows every defendant is guilty because why else would the cops have arrested him and the prosecutor be prosecuting him? How many of those people have apologized for raping the guy or lost even one second of sleep knowing they were raping the guy all along? As much as Sebold may deserve to be beat with a stick over her part in fucking over an innocent man, the cops and the prosecutors and the judges deserve to be fed slowly into a woodchipper because they do this shit every goddamn day, they're doing it right now and they don't give a shit.

    1. A-yup. That's the real libertarian story here. Sebold is clearly stupid and people who've fawned over her work should be ridiculed for their obsession with stupid rape fantasies, but that's all a distraction from the fact that the police are the ones who suggested Broadwater be picked up and the Prosecutor lied to her when she picked 'the wrong guy'.

  11. >>It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened.

    eight days lol. forty. years.

  12. Best-Selling Author Alice Sebold Apologizes to Innocent Man

    Really?

    she broke the silence in a Medium post, apologizing for what happened to Broadwater

    So, no. Someone wrote a press release.

  13. I am sure that her apology is plenty compensation for the man whose life she completely ruined.

  14. How did the system let her down, if she misidentified her attacker?

    I'm not saying police don't play fast and loose with lineups, but at the end of the day, she still picked the wrong person and bears some responsibility.

    1. She didn’t pick the wrong person. She was told she picked the wrong person at the line up and told to pick this poor schmuck. She did as she was told, yielding to authority.

      She’s a weak, stupid person. But she initially picked someone else

      1. She was told she picked the wrong person at the line up and told to pick this poor schmuck. She did as she was told, yielding to authority.

        So you agree then that she lied under oath on the stand. Nothing would have happened to her if she had told the truth, so you can't say that she was coerced. She willfully and knowingly destroyed someone else's life.

        In any case, even if you characterize her behavior as "weak and stupid", if you destroy someone's life because you are "weak and stupid", you are still legally responsible.

  15. She explains that she has spent the days since Broadwater's exoneration reckoning with what happened:

    Today, American society is starting to acknowledge and address the systemic issues in our judicial system that too often means that justice for some comes at the expense of others. Unfortunately, this was not a debate, or a conversation, or even a whisper when I reported my rape in 1981.

    It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened. I will continue to struggle with the role that I unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail.

    What an evil non-apology. She knew full well that she failed to identify the guy she accused in a lineup, yet she identified him in court of being her attacker. This was her fault: she wanted to see someone to pay and she didn't care much whether it was the right person.

    She is right that there are systemic issues. In particular, there is the systemic issue that people like her are believed and that there are almost never consequences for women giving false testimony in such cases.

    And the fix to that systemic issue is to make her pay for the harm she has done and for her carelessness.

    1. Read it again. She initially picked someone else and was coerced to testify against this guy.

      1. Which she did. If you are assaulted violently and are told the person you point out in a lineup isn’t the assailant, would you be so much into punishing someone that you commit perjury and claim to be able to identify the person the prosecutor tells you to lie about? Years later, would you be sorry for playing a small part in a systemically unjust system or would you feel actual sorrow for having agreed to wrongly identify some guy because you had been told he was guilty and you wanted to see him punished?
        Based on what she did and her non-apology, she is an awful and self-centered person. This is made more obvious when she goes on to lament that the actual rapist was never punished. Trust me, lady, the person you are “apologizing” to does not care whether your alleged rapist was punished or not.

      2. Read it again. She initially picked someone else and was coerced to testify against this guy.

        She was called to the stand, and she could simply have said the truth: "I don't know". How was that "coercion"? What would have happened to her if she had told the truth? Nothing.

        And we know she was fine with what she did because she kept writing about it on her Twitter blog.

        Stop white knighting.

  16. I thank God oy every day I was blessed with these instructions and now it’s my duty to and pay it forward and share it with And Everyone, Here For MORE INFO PLEASE Just check this SITE tambayan

  17. Maybe instead of apologies, she can send him a check for all the royalties she made on the book

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.