'Lovely Bones' Author Alice Sebold Apologizes to Man Wrongly Convicted of Raping Her

Alice Sebold publicly apologized to Anthony Broadwater more than a week after he was cleared of rape charges

Alice Sebold
Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty

Alice Sebold, New York Times best-selling author of The Lovely Bones, is finally apologizing to the man she wrongly accused of raping her nearly four decades ago while she was a student at Syracuse University.

In a public statement posted to Medium, Sebold issued an apology to Anthony Broadwater, who was cleared last Monday of all charges in his 1982 conviction – which served as the main subject in Sebold's best-selling 1999 memoir, Lucky. "First, I want to say that I am truly sorry to Anthony Broadwater and I deeply regret what you have been through," Sebold wrote.

"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," the statement continued. "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."

Alice Sebold
Alice Sebold. Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images

Sebold went on to write that as a "traumatized 18-year-old rape victim," she chose to "put my faith in the American legal system" – something she now regrets nearly 40 years later.

"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," she added in part.

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

PEOPLE has reached out to Sebold's publishing company, Simon and Schuster, for comment.

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In an interview with the New York Times on Tuesday, Broadwater said he was "relieved and grateful" for Sebold's apology.

"It took a lot of courage, and I guess she's brave and weathering through the storm like I am," he said. "To make that statement, it's a strong thing for her to do, understanding that she was a victim and I was a victim too."

In her memoir, Sebold wrote that she spotted Broadwater — who is identified under a pseudonym in the book — on the street months after her attack and notified police. He was arrested and still tried for the crime after Sebold failed to identify him in a police line-up, according to the NYT.

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The Times reports that Sebold later identified Broadwater as her attacker in court, and prosecutors used a now-discredited microscopic hair analysis technique to rest their case.

Broadwater, 61, served over 16 years in state prison after being convicted of raping Sebold in 1982, per Syracuse.com. Although he was out of prison, Broadwater remained on the state's sex offender registry for more than two decades until he was cleared of all charges on Nov. 22.

"I've been crying tears of joy and relief the last couple of days," Broadwater told The Associated Press on Nov. 23. "I'm so elated, the cold can't even keep me cold."

A GoFundMe campaign is now accepting donations for Broadwater.

On Nov. 25, a spokesperson for Netflix told Variety that the streamer was axing the film adaptation of Lucky, which was set to star You actress Victoria Pedretti, upon Broadwater's exoneration.

The film's executive producer, Timothy Mucciante, played a large role in getting Broadwater's case reexamined when he "began to question the story that the movie was based on earlier this year, after he noticed discrepancies between the memoir and the script," according to the NYT.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.

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