The Lovely Bones author Alice Sebold has apologised after a man wrongly convicted of her rape was exonerated after spending 16 years in prison.
Sebold mistakenly identified Anthony Broadwater as her attacker in 1981, and went on to write a bestselling novel, Lucky, based on her assault.
However last week, Broadwater was officially cleared of the conviction, following a re-examination of the case that began when a Netflix producer working on an adaptation of Lucky noticed discrepancies in Sebold’s account of the trial.
In a blog post published following the verdict, Sebold apologised to Broadwater, saying she would ‘forever be sorry for what was done to him.’
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.
Sebold continued to recall that ‘as a traumatised 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.’
Nevertheless, she said she acknowledged that the case ultimately saw ‘another young Black man brutalised by our flawed legal system,’ adding ‘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.’
Sebold also pointed out that as a result of the wrongful conviction, the true identity of her rapist will ‘never be known,’ and that she feared, as a result, he may have gone on to attack other women.
It’s not clear whether Sebold has reached out to Broadwater privately, and he has not publicly responded to her apology.
After being officially cleared last week, Broadwater told local reporters ‘I never, ever, ever thought I would see the day that I would be exonerated.’
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm–9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas
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