Just over a week after Anthony Broadwater was exonerated for the 1981 rape of Alice Sebold, she apologized and labeled the Syracuse man “innocent.”
According to Syracuse.com, prior to releasing her apology to the public on Tuesday (November 30), the best-selling author’s representatives sent a copy to Broadwater so he could be the first to read it.
“It comes sincerely from her heart,” Broadwater told the news outlet before bursting into tears. “She knowingly admits what happened. I accept her apology.”
In her apology, Sebold stated she put her faith as a “traumatized 18-year-old rape victim” in the American legal system. In 1999, she launched her career with the memoir Lucky, which described her rape in Syracuse’s Thornden Park and going through the criminal justice system that led to Broadwater’s 1982 conviction.
Sebold now believes Broadwater didn’t commit the crime for which he served 16 years in prison.
“It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened,” Sebold wrote in the statement via Medium. “I will continue to struggle with the role that I unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail.”
During his trial, the only two pieces of evidence against Broadwater were Sebold’s identification after she picked out the wrong man in an earlier police lineup, and microscopic hair analysis, which is now deemed to be junk science.
Broadwater told Syracuse.com that, at first, it was difficult for the apology to sink in, but after talking about it with his wife, the emotional weight was overwhelming.
“He cried,” said Hammond, one of his lawyers. ‘His wife cried, too.”
“It was a big relief,” Broadwater said. “It must have taken a lot of courage to come to terms and make that apology.”
Also in her statement, Sebold noted that America continues to face problems in its criminal justice system.
“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 wrote. “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.”