Why has the man Alice Sebold helped convict just been exonerated? TOM LEONARD asks

Acclaimed novelist Alice Sebold was a first-year scholar at Syracuse University in upstate New York when she was raped at knifepoint in May 1981. 

The terrifying ordeal would come to outline her writing profession. 

Her most well-known novel, The Lovely Bones — later became a characteristic film starring Saoirse Ronan — is about a woman who’s raped and murdered. 

And Sebold’s memoir, Lucky, ploughed the similar surprising literary furrow, the cowl declaring: ‘In the tunnel the place I used to be raped, a woman had been murdered and dismembered. I used to be informed this story by the police. In comparability, they stated, I used to be fortunate.’ 

Critics rhapsodised about her unflinching description of the rape, her willpower to wrest her life again from her attacker, in addition to her ‘braveness to talk the unspeakable’. 

Acclaimed novelist Alice Sebold's terrifying ordeal would come to define her writing career with her most famous novel, The Lovely Bones, published in 2002

Acclaimed novelist Alice Sebold’s terrifying ordeal would come to outline her writing profession along with her most well-known novel, The Lovely Bones, revealed in 2002

That she ought to be capable to use a tragedy which may have ruined her life as the inspiration for a glittering literary profession appeared completely just. 

The solely drawback, it seems, is that it additionally ruined one other harmless life — that of the man she recognized in court docket as her attacker, who spent 16 years in jail for the crime from which he has now been exonerated. 

On Monday, a decide in Syracuse quashed the conviction of Anthony Broadwater at the request of prosecutors, who admitted there had been critical flaws in the authentic trial. 

Broadwater’s attorneys identified that Sebold had initially recognized a special man in a police identification parade. 

They additionally argued that the prosecution had relied on a sort of microscopic hair evaluation that has since been debunked by forensic scientists. 

Ironically, regardless of Broadwater combating for many years to clear his identify, the success of his attraction can largely be attributed to the producer of a film model of Sebold’s memoir that was in pre-production. He observed discrepancies between the film script and her ebook. 

Broadwater, 61, sobbed in court docket as prosecutor William Fitzpatrick stated: ‘I’m not going to sully this continuing by saying: “I’m sorry”. That doesn’t lower it. This ought to by no means have occurred.’ 

Anthony Broadwater (centre), 61, reacts to Judge Gordon Cuffy overturning the 40-year-old rape conviction that wrongfully put him in state prison for Alice Sebold's rape

Anthony Broadwater (centre), 61, reacts to Judge Gordon Cuffy overturning the 40-year-old rape conviction that wrongfully put him in state jail for Alice Sebold’s rape

Sebold, 58, had no touch upon the choice, stated her writer, Scribner. It added that there have been no plans to update the contents of the memoir, which coated her alleged attacker’s arrest and conviction. 

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In a 2003 interview she stated: ‘Everybody in my case had stated, “Whatever you do, don’t take a look at the rapist if you go in the court docket as a result of he’ll attempt to intimidate you.” So as quickly as they informed me that, I knew I might. I checked out him intensely and wouldn’t take my eyes away from him, and he turned away and regarded down.’ 

For his half, Broadwater stated he ‘actually and strongly’ sympathised with the creator. ‘Something did occur, however I used to be not the particular person,’ he stated. 

‘I just hope and pray that possibly Ms Sebold will come ahead and say, “Hey, I made a grave mistake”, and provides me an apology.’ 

Broadwater, who handed two lie detector exams testifying his innocence, stated his life had been blighted by his conviction. After his launch from jail in 1999 on the completion of his sentence, he remained on a public intercourse offender register and was ostracised by associates, household and employers. 

An emotion Anthony Broadwater pictured hugging a relative in court after a judge overturned his conviction for rape

An emotion Anthony Broadwater pictured hugging a relative in court docket after a decide overturned his conviction for rape

He was pressured to do odd jobs and handbook labour to get by, and particularly labored night time shifts in order that he would have an alibi if there was one other assault like the midnight rape of Sebold. 

He stated his spouse, Elizabeth, had needed to have youngsters however he refused, saying that he didn’t need them to must dwell with the stigma of his conviction. And his supposed crime was there for all to see. 

In Sebold’s 1999 memoir, his accuser had graphically described what befell her as she was returning house via a park close to her college campus. 

The 18-year-old was grabbed from behind, overwhelmed, lower and dragged right into a bottle-strewn tunnel that was an underground entrance to an amphitheatre. 

Sebold, who was a virgin, stated the monster who raped her informed her: ‘You’re the worst b***h I ever accomplished this to.’ 

When he was completed along with her, he requested Sebold for her identify. ‘I couldn’t lie. I didn’t have a reputation apart from my very own to say,’ she stated. 

‘So his parting phrases had been: “Nice realizing you, Alice . . . see you round a while”.’ 

Author Alice Sebold, 58, pictured receiving an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree atBoston University in 2016

Author Alice Sebold, 58, pictured receiving an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree atBoston University in 2016

She stated she instantly informed campus safety and went to the police. Broadwater, then a 20-yearold U.S. marine, was arrested 5 months later, after Sebold handed a man she was sure had been her attacker on the road. 

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‘He was smiling as he approached. He recognised me,’ she wrote in Lucky. 

‘It was a stroll in the park to him; he had met an acquaintance on the road. “Hey, lady,” he stated. “Don’t I do know you from someplace?”’ 

Sebold stated she didn’t reply: ‘I regarded immediately at him. Knew his face had been the face over me in the tunnel.’ 

She known as the police, and Broadwater, who had supposedly been seen in the space, was arrested. However, Sebold then did not determine him in a police identification parade. 

She picked a special man as her attacker as a result of, she wrote, ‘the expression in his eyes informed me that if we had been alone, if there have been no wall between us, he would name me by identify after which kill me’. 

Broadwater was nonetheless tried the following 12 months. The final result of the police line-up was talked about at the trial however, when Sebold took the witness stand, she recognized the accused as her rapist. 

An professional witness informed the court docket that microscopic hair evaluation had tied Broadwater to the crime. He was convicted of rape and sodomy, and sentenced to eight to 25 years in jail. 

The film adaptation of the Lovely Bones,  directed by Peter Jackson in 2009, made a star out of actress Saoirse Ronan, who played the protagonist Susie Salmon

The film adaptation of the Lovely Bones,  directed by Peter Jackson in 2009, made a star out of actress Saoirse Ronan, who performed the protagonist Susie Salmon

Sebold, the daughter of a Spanish lecturer, moved to New York and, whereas working as a waitress as she tried to ascertain herself as a author, started taking heroin. She struggled to have romantic relationships, and located intercourse ‘like gritting your tooth on a daunting carnival experience that these round you seem to take pleasure in’. 

She later determined that she was struggling from post-traumatic stress dysfunction and underwent remedy. 

The Lovely Bones, her first novel, was revealed in 2002, three years after her memoir — which had met with little curiosity — and was an instantaneous hit, promoting 5 million copies. 

The story is informed from the perspective of a 14-year-old lady, Susie Salmon, who — talking from Heaven — recounts how she was lured into an underground hideout by a neighbour who then raped and murdered her. 

Sebold has acknowledged that, without her expertise of rape, she would possibly by no means have written The Lovely Bones. 

Following the success of the novel, Lucky was reissued and have become a bestseller. In 2019, it was introduced that Lucky would even be made right into a characteristic film, though it was reported yesterday that the challenge was deserted a number of months in the past due to funding issues. 

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In the course of pre-production, Timothy Mucciante, an government producer, started to query the story behind it. ‘I started having some doubts, not about the story that Alice informed about her assault, which was tragic, however about the second a part of her ebook — about the trial, which didn’t dangle collectively,’ he stated. 

He was so sceptical that he left the manufacturing in June and employed a non-public detective known as Dan Myers to look into the case. On the foundation of his findings, Mucciante turned satisfied of Broadwater’s innocence. 

Alice Sebold recounted the harrowing experience of rape in 1981 in her memoir Lucky, which was first published in 1998

Alice Sebold recounted the harrowing expertise of rape in 1981 in her memoir Lucky, which was first revealed in 1998

His considerations had been taken up by attorneys employed by Broadwater, who argued at the subsequent attraction listening to that the authentic trial had hinged on two unreliable items of proof — Sebold’s identification of Broadwater and hair proof supplied by a forensic chemist. Both had been flawed, they stated. 

The incontrovertible fact that the author had initially picked one other man in the identification parade — telling the trial that he and Broadwater regarded like twins — was sufficient to lift cheap doubt, they stated. 

As for the hair proof, the prosecution’s forensic professional stated at the trial that the samples of the rapist’s hair discovered on her physique had been ‘constant’ with Broadwater’s hair, however he couldn’t say what number of different individuals may need related hair. 

He even conceded that there was a ‘chance’ the hair might have belonged to somebody apart from the accused. 

In 2016, no much less an authority than the then FBI director James Comey acknowledged that trials in the Nineteen Nineties and earlier had ‘put extra weight on hair comparability than scientifically applicable’. 

He added that ‘hair shouldn’t be like fingerprints, as there aren’t any research that present how many individuals have identical-looking hair fibres’. 

David Hammond, Broadwater’s present lawyer, was much more dismissive: ‘Sprinkle some junk science on to a defective identification and it’s the excellent recipe for a wrongful conviction.’ 

However, he acknowledged that in the absence of DNA proof — the proof collected at the time now not exists — nobody will ever know for sure.

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