Anthony J. Broadwater who was wrongly imprisoned for Alice Sebold’s rape to be paid $5.5 million
New York State will pay a man who was wrongly convicted and imprisoned for raping author Alice Sebold more than $5 million after he filed a lawsuit following his release.
Anthony J. Broadwater, 62, was imprisoned for 16 years for Sebold’s rape, which occurred when she was a college student at Syracuse University in 1981.
According to the New York Times, lawyers for Broadwater signed a settlement last week and New York’s Attorney General Letitia James was present.
The agreement will be sent to a judge for signing off. Melissa Swartz, a lawyer for Broadwater, said Ramón E. Rivera with the state’s court had verbally approved.
‘I appreciate what Attorney General James has done and I hope and pray that others in my situation can achieve the same measure of justice,’ Broadwater said Monday.
The wrongfully imprisoned man had his conviction vacated by a New York judge in November 2021 who said at the time the case against him was deeply flawed.
Anthony J. Broadwater, 62, was imprisoned for 16 years for author Alice Sebold’s rape, which occurred when she was a college student at Syracuse University in 1981. Pictured: Broadwater after his conviction was vacated in 2021
After Broadwater was convicted, Sebold went on to write popular novels including ‘Lucky’ which documented her own rape, as well as ‘The Lovely Bones’ which was turned into a film
‘I appreciate what Attorney General James has done and I hope and pray that others in my situation can achieve the same measure of justice,’ Broadwater said Monday in a statement. Pictured: Broadwater after his conviction was overturned in 2021
Swartz on Monday said Broadwater was happy to hear that New York state lawyers had decided against a deposition where he would have to rehash the events.
‘That would be extremely difficult for Tony to go through,’ the lawyer said.
In a statement, James said the payment is a ‘critical step to deliver some semblance of justice to Mr. Broadwater.’
The man says he hopes to use the money to buy land and a home for himself and his partner somewhere private.
On Monday after the settlement became public, Sebold released a brief statement.
‘No amount of money can erase the injustices Mr. Broadwater suffered,’ she said.
‘But the settlement now officially acknowledges them,’ the author wrote.
After the 1981 assault, Sebold went on to write a memoir in which she detailed the rape. In ‘Lucky,’ the author described in detail her assault which happened at a park near Syracuse University’s campus.
The author was 18-years-old and a freshman at the college at the time.
She told campus security about the assault immediately after it occurred and then told the local police. Evidence including a rape kit was taken.
Sebold described her attacker to police and a sketch was composed. The sketch that was made did not resemble the actual man who had attacked her.
On Monday after the settlement became public, Sebold released a brief statement
‘No amount of money can erase the injustices Mr. Broadwater suffered,’ Sebold said Monday
Sebold wrote her memoir ‘Lucky’ which was released before the 2002 novel ‘The Lovely Bones’
In a statement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said the payment is a ‘critical step to deliver some semblance of justice to Mr. Broadwater. Pictured: Broadwater in 2021
Lawyers for Broadwater signed a settlement last week and New York’s Attorney General Letitia James (pictured above) was present at the signing
Broadwater was arrested months after the rape when Sebold passed him on the street and informed local police she may have seen her attacker.
In her book, Sebold said she had picked out a different man in the police line up but that they looked extremely similar. She later identified Broadwater in court.
Broadwater’s lawyers said prosecutors had falsely told Sebold that Broadwater and the man next to him in the lineup were friends who appeared together to trick her.
The prosecutorial misconduct led to an influenced testimony from Sebold, Broadwater’s lawyers claimed.
Even after the man was released in 1998, he struggled to put his life back together.
Broadwater had to register as a sex offender after his release and ‘Lucky’ was released one year later.
The wrongly convicted man later hired Swartz to help clear his name after he found out that Sebold was looking at a film adaptation of her memoir.
In the motion to vacate, Swartz and an associate argued he had been entirely reliant on Sebold’s own identification and a discredited hair analysis.
Judge William J. Fitzpatrick joined the motion to vacate the conviction and in 2021, Justice Gordon J. Cuffy of State Supreme Court overturned Broadwater’s conviction for first-degree rape and five other charges.
Broadwater’s requirement to register as a sex offender was also dropped.
‘It’s a long day coming,’ Mr. Broadwater said at the time.
This is the 1981 line up of black men that Alice Sebold was told to choose from. Anthony Broadwater is the second from the right, fourth along in the lineup. She picked the man next to him, who was in the fifth position, but was then told by police she had ‘failed to identify the suspect’
‘I PICKED THE WRONG MAN’: ALICE SEBOLD DESCRIBES PICKING DIFFERENT SUSPECT
‘Five black men in almost identical light blue shirts and dark blue pants walked in and assumed their places. “It’s not one, two, or three.
‘I stood in front of number four. He was not looking at me. While he looked toward the floor I saw his shoulders. Wide like my rapist’s, and powerful.
‘The shape of his head and neck – just like my rapist’s. His build, his nose, his lips. I hugged my arms across my chest and stared.
‘I moved on to number five. His build was right, his height. And he was looking at me, looking right at me, as if he knew I was there. Knew who I was. The expression in his eyes told me that if we were alone, if there were no wall between us, he would call me by name and then kill me…. I approached the clipboard… I placed my X in the number five box. I had marked the wrong one,’ she wrote.
After the lineup, she was told by a Sergeant Lorenz, that she picked out the wrong person.
‘Alice, it’s my duty to inform you that you failed to pick out the suspect,’ she quoted him saying.
‘He did not tell me which one was the suspect. He couldn’t. But I knew. I stated for the record that in my opinion, the men in positions four and five were almost identical.’
She then described how the then Assistant District Attorney Gail Uebelhoer came into the room and said: ‘Well, we got the hair out of the bastard,’ referring to Broadwater.
The assault allegedly took place at Syracuse University in 1982, Sebold said
Broadwater broke down in tears after Judge Gordon Cuffy overturned his conviction in 2021
After leaving prison in 1998, Broadwater worked a series of low paying jobs after being forced to register as a sex offender.
According to the New York Times, he worked temp jobs a metal plating factory, bagging potatoes, doing yardwork and roofing, mopping floors, and scavenging for scrap metal.
He eventually filed his lawsuit against the state as well as civil rights lawsuits against many of the key players in his case.
That case is still pending and cites Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse, an assistant district attorney and a police office.
Following the vacation of his conviction in 2021, Sebold issued a lengthy apology to the man she helped wrongfully imprison for nearly two decades.
At the time, she apologized for ‘unwittingly’ being one of the reasons he went to jail.
‘I am sorry most of all for the fact that the life you could have led was unjustly robbed from you,’ she wrote in an online statement.
‘And I know that no apology can change what happened to you and never will.’
Broadwater responded to her apology and said ‘it took a lot of courage’ and that ‘she was a victim and I was a victim too.’
Author Alice Sebold apologizes to man wrongly convicted in her rape – nearly 40 years later
In a statement posted to Medium.com, author Alice Sebold formally apologized to Anthony Broadwater, 61, who was wrongly convicted in her rape in 1982.
The statement reads:
‘First, I want to say that I am truly sorry to Anthony Broadwater and I deeply regret what you have been through.
‘I am sorry most of all for the fact that the life you could have led was unjustly robbed from you, and I know that no apology can change what happened to you and never will. Of the many things I wish for you, I hope most of all that you and your family will be granted the time and privacy to heal.
’40 years ago, as a traumatized 18-year-old rape victim, I chose to put my faith in the American legal system. My goal in 1982 was justice — not to perpetuate injustice. And certainly not to forever, and irreparably, alter a young man’s life by the very crime that had altered mine.
‘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.
‘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.
‘Throughout my life, I have always tried to act with integrity and to speak from a place of honesty. And so, I state here clearly that I will remain sorry for the rest of my life that while pursuing justice through the legal system, my own misfortune resulted in Mr. Broadwater’s unfair conviction for which he has served not only 16 years behind bars but in ways that further serve to wound and stigmatize, nearly a full life sentence.’