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Author Alice Sebold apologizes to man wrongfully convicted of raping her

"The Lovely Bones" author apologized to Anthony Broadwater, who was exonerated in the 1981 rape, which was the basis of her memoir, "Lucky."
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Author Alice Sebold apologized Tuesday to the man who was exonerated of the 1981 rape featured in her memoir, "Lucky," saying she struggled with the role she "unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail."

The man, Anthony Broadwater, 68, was convicted in 1982 of raping Sebold, 58, and served 16 years in prison. The conviction was overturned last week after authorities found serious flaws in the original arrest and the trial.

Sebold, who also wrote the novels "The Lovely Bones" and "The Almost Moon," based her 1999 memoir, "Lucky," on her rape when she was a student at Syracuse University.

In a statement to The Associated Press, which was later posted on Medium, Sebold apologized to Broadwater for her role in his conviction. She wrote that as a "traumatized 18-year-old rape victim," she chose to put her faith in the legal system.

"My goal in 1982 was justice — not to perpetuate injustice," she said. "And certainly not to forever, and irreparably, alter a young man's life by the very crime that had altered mine."

In a written statement Tuesday, publisher Scribner and Simon & Schuster said distribution of "Lucky" in all its formats would cease "while Sebold and Scribner together consider how the work might be revised."

The decision was made following Broadwater's exoneration and in consultation with Sebold, the statement said.

Sebold wrote in “Lucky” that she was raped and that several months later, she saw a Black man walking down the street who she believed was the person who attacked her. Sebold, who is white, reported her experience to police. An officer suggested that the man was Broadwater, who had supposedly been seen in the area.

Sebold failed to identify Broadwater in a police lineup after he was arrested. She wrote in “Lucky” that she picked a different man based on the "expression in his eyes."

Broadwater was tried and convicted regardless. Sebold identified him as her rapist on the witness stand, and an expert said microscopic hair analysis linked him to the assault. The analysis used in the 1982 case has since been debunked as "junk science" by the Justice Department.

Broadwater told The AP that he has "been crying tears of joy and relief" since he was exonerated.

Sebold said in her statement: "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 she is also grappling with the fact that her rapist will "never be known" and may have assaulted other women.

Broadwater, who has not publicly responded to Sebold's apology, remained on New York's sex offender registry after he was released from prison in 1999.

Sebold said she will remain sorry for the rest of her life "that while pursuing justice through the legal system," her "own misfortune" put Broadwater behind bars.

"He has served not only 16 years behind bars but in ways that further serve to wound and stigmatize, nearly a full life sentence," she said.