New York to pay man exonerated in Sebold rape case $5.5 million

New York to pay man exonerated in Sebold rape case $5.5 million

NEW YORK – A man who spent 16 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of raping writer Alice Sebold while a student at Syracuse University has settled a $5.5 million lawsuit against New York State, their lawyers announced Monday.

The deal comes after Anthony Broadwater’s conviction for the 1981 rape of Sebold was overturned in 2021. It was signed last week by Broadwater’s attorneys and New York Attorney General Letitia James, said David Hammond, one of Broadwater’s attorneys.

Broadwater, 62, said in a statement released by Hammond: ‘I appreciate what Attorney General James has done, and I hope and pray that others in my situation can get the same measure of justice. . We all suffer destroyed lives.

“Clearly, no amount of money can erase the injustices suffered by Mr. Broadwater, but the settlement now formally recognizes them,” Sebold said in a statement released through a spokesperson.

Sebold was an 18-year-old freshman at Syracuse when she was raped in a park near campus in May 1981. She described the attack and subsequent lawsuits in a memoir, “Lucky,” published in 1999.

Sebold won acclaim for his 2002 novel ‘The Lovely Bones’, which chronicled the aftermath of the rape and murder of a teenage girl and was made into a film starring Saoirse Ronan, Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci.

Sebold, who is white, wrote in “Lucky” that she saw a black man on the street months after she was raped and was sure he was her attacker.

“He was smiling as he approached. He recognized me. For him, it was a walk in the park; he had met an acquaintance on the street,” Sebold wrote. “Hey, girl,” he said. ‘Don’t I know you from somewhere?’”

Police arrested Broadwater, who was given the pseudonym Gregory Madison in “Lucky.” But Sebold was unable to identify him in a police line and chose another man as the attacker.

Nonetheless, Broadwater was tried and convicted in 1982 after Sebold identified him as his rapist on the witness stand and an expert said microscopic hair analysis linked Broadwater to the crime. This type of analysis has since been deemed junk science by the US Department of Justice.

Broadwater was released from prison in 1999. But he still had to register as a sex offender until his conviction was overturned in November 2021.

William J. Fitzpatrick, the current district attorney for Onondaga County, the central New York county that includes Syracuse, joined the motion to vacate the conviction, noting that witness identifications, particularly to across racial lines, are often unreliable.

Broadwater’s deal with the state must be approved by a judge before it becomes final.

“Anthony Broadwater was found guilty of a crime he never committed and was imprisoned despite his innocence. While we cannot right the wrongs of more than four decades ago, this settlement agreement is an essential step in bringing some semblance of justice to Mr. Broadwater,” James said in an emailed statement.

Broadwater also filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Onondaga County, the city of Syracuse, and an assistant district attorney and police officer who participated in its lawsuit. This case is pending.

Sebold apologized to Broadwater in a 2021 statement published on The Associated Press and later posted on Medium.

She wrote that “As a traumatized 18-year-old rape victim, I chose to trust the American justice system. My goal in 1982 was justice, not the perpetuation of injustice. And certainly not forever and irreparably alter the life of a young man for the same crime that altered mine.”

Ashley Johnson
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