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Judge Exonerates Black Man Accused Of Rape Depicted in Memoir of Author Alice Sebold

Anthony Broadwater spent 16 years in prison for a heinous crime he didn’t commit.

Anthony Broadwater never wavered in denying an accusation of rape by Alice Sebold, the author of The Lovely Bones, a crime which she described in her memoir, Lucky. He was convicted in 1982 and spent more than 16 years in prison. But Broadwater, now 61, has finally been vindicated.

On Nov. 25, New York State Supreme Court Justice Gordon Cuffy exonerated Broadwater, The New York Times reported.  The Onondaga County, N.Y., district attorney agreed with the judge that the prosecutor’s case against Broadwater was seriously flawed.

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Sebold was raped at a Syracuse park in 1981 when she was a freshman at Syracuse University. She reported the attack to the police who created a composite sketch of the suspect that Sebold said didn’t look like the man who violated her.

Five months later, the police arrested Broadwater. However, she identified the man standing next to Broadwater in a police lineup as the attacker. But in court, she later identified Broadwater as the rapist.

Broadwater was convicted of first-degree rape and five related charges even though he passed two lie detector tests, according to CNN. At least five times he was denied parole for refusing to admit to a crime that he didn’t commit.

In 1998, he was finally released from prison, but his life became difficult. He had to register as a sex offender and struggled to find work, as people shunned him because of his conviction.

“On my two hands, I can count the people that allowed me to grace their homes and dinners, and I don’t get past 10. That’s very traumatic to me,” he said, according to the Times.

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Broadwater’s attorneys argued in their motion to vacate the conviction that the prosecutor’s cases relied only on Sebold identifying their client in court and a flawed method of microscopic hair analysis. They also claimed misconduct from the police lineup. The prosecutor, they argued, told Sebold that the man she mis-identified in the lineup was Broadwater’s friend, and the two tried to trick her into choosing the wrong man.

According to the Times, Sebold’s memoir launched her writing career, and her novel, based on the theme of sexual assault, sold millions of copies. She didn’t immediately comment on Broadwater’s exoneration. And her publisher said there were no plans to update her memoirs.

“I just hope and pray that maybe Ms. Sebold will come forward and say, ‘Hey, I made a grave mistake,’ and give me an apology,” Mr. Broadwater said, according to the Times.

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