Alice Sebold Sorry Innocent Man Went to Jail for Her Rape, Blames 'Flawed Legal System'

Author Alice Sebold is apologizing for accusing the wrong man of her 1982 rape.

The author of The Lovely Bones and the memoir Lucky released a statement regarding the exoneration of Anthony Broadwater, who she previously yet falsely accused of raping her as a freshman at Syracuse University, the Associated Press reported. She apologized to Broadwater for her accusation, while also saying that "no apology can change what happened to you and never will."

Sebold explained in her statement that she was seeking justice for her own rape, not to affect anyone else's lives as collateral. Because of this, she said, she sought trust in the police, which she acknowledged was a mistake.

"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," she said. "I will forever be sorry for what was done to him."

This statement comes eight days after the exoneration of Broadwater, who spent 16 years in prison after being convicted for the crime. After his release, he was placed on the New York sex offender registry. However, with his exoneration, his name will be removed from the list. He had told the Associated Press that he was crying "tears of joy and relief" following the ruling.

Newsweek previously reported that the film adaptation of Lucky played an indirect role in the reversal of Broadwater's conviction, as a former producer became skeptical of the evidence used to convict him. Sources told Variety that the film had been canceled after losing funding prior to the exoneration.

One of Broadwater's attorneys, Melissa Swartz, told AP that he had no comment regarding the statement.

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.

Alice Sebold
Author Alice Sebold is apologizing for accusing the wrong man of her 1982 rape. Alice Sebold, American writer, Milan, Italy, 2018. Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images

Sebold wrote in 1999's "Lucky" of being raped and then spotting a Black man in the street several months later who she believed was her attacker.

Sebold, who is white, went to police. An officer said the man in the street must have been Broadwater, who had supposedly been seen in the area.

After Broadwater was arrested, Sebold failed to identify him in a police lineup, picking a different man as her attacker because she was frightened of "the expression in his eyes."

But prosecutors put Broadwater on trial anyway. He was convicted based largely on Sebold identifying him as her rapist on the witness stand and testimony that microscopic hair analysis had tied him to the crime. That type of analysis has since been deemed junk science by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened," said Sebold, now 58. "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."

Anthony Broadwater
Anthony Broadwater, center, gazes upward, Monday, November 22, 2021, in Syracuse, New York, after Judge Gordon Cuffy overturned the 40-year-old rape conviction that wrongfully put him in state prison for Alice Sebold's rape. Broadwater, who spent 16 years in prison, was cleared by a judge of raping Sebold when she was a student at Syracuse University, an assault she wrote about in her 1999 memoir, "Lucky."