Update On The Anthony Broadwater Saga

New York State will pay $5.5 million to Anthony Broadwater, who spent 16 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of raping the Alice Sebold, a best selling novelist and author, when she was a college student in 1982. He was finally released in 1999. The $5.5 million settles Broadwater’s lawsuit, filed after his rape conviction was vacated in November 2021 by a state court judge.

The justice system in Broadwater’s case certainly malfunctioned badly, as the Times story linked above explains. The main responsible party, however, was Sebold, who not only sent the innocent man to prison with a false accusation and identification, but profited by doing so. She wrote two books, one her successful novel “Lovely Bones,” based on the rape, and an earlier book “Lucky,” an account of her rape and the subsequent identification of Broadwater as her rapist. Sebold passed Broadwater on the street and contacted the police saying she might have seen the man who had raped her. That placed him in the maw of a system determined to pin the rape on someone. She later identified him in court as her rapist.

When Broadwater was released, as I previously noted in this post, Sebold attempted to salve a guilty conscience by issuing an apology on the website Medium, which said in part,

40 years ago, as a traumatized 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. And certainly not to forever, and irreparably, alter a young man’s life by the very crime that had altered mine. 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. Today, American society is starting to acknowledge and address the systemic issues in our judicial system that too often means that justice for some comes at the expense of others. Unfortunately, this was not a debate, or a conversation, or even a whisper when I reported my rape in 1981. 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. 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. Throughout my life, I have always tried to act with integrity and to speak from a place of honesty. And so, I state here clearly that I will remain sorry for the rest of my life that while pursuing justice through the legal system, my own misfortune resulted in Mr. Broadwater’s unfair conviction for which he has served not only 16 years behind bars but in ways that further serve to wound and stigmatize, nearly a full life sentence. 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. It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened.

Gee, it’s nice to know she’s “struggling.” Meanwhile, the taxpayers of New York are paying for her mistake. She still has her royalties, a successful career, and is worth an estimated 3 million dollars. As I wrote in 2021,

This wasn’t “the system’s” failure, it was her failure. She identified the wrong man and single-handedly put him in prison for 16 years. She can’t apologize and simultaneously cast herself as the victim. Broadwater’s life was ruined by her false accusation, but hers benefited: she turned her rape into a best-selling book. Now Sebold is mouthing Black Lives Matter talking points to distract from her own accountability.

She should give her victim every cent she has earned from “Lucky.”

Nah! After all, she apologized on a website! Sebold said this week after the settlement was announced that “no amount of money can erase the injustices Mr. Broadwater suffered” but that “the settlement now officially acknowledges them.”

And, of course, lets her off the hook without the author having to forfeit any of her assets to help make amends for her central role in the tragedy.

A happy ending!

12 thoughts on “Update On The Anthony Broadwater Saga

  1. So, a life not only forfeited but spent in prison goes for five and a half million 2023 bucks. Good to know. I remember the defense guys at the big firm I toiled away at discussing a case over lunch concluding by saying, “It comes down to what a dead Indian’s worth in Flagstaff.”

    Shouldn’t the cops and the prosecutors have been required to obtain some corroboration of her identification? That’s all they had? Nasty.

    • there are quite a few posts on this issue. It’s ripe for Melvin Belli’s famous blackboard: “Let’s see: what would you pay to not spend a single hour in that prison? Let’s say $50—is that fair? OK: my client spent 16 X 364 days there. That’s 50 bucks X 24 X 364 x 16, which comes out to 6, 988, 800 dollars, and it doesn’t even count four extra days for leap year. Now let’s talk about pain and suffering….”

      • Five million plus strikes me as on the low side. Hell, isn’t that what reparations for people who’ve been wandering around free all their life will be in San Francisco will be? Come to think of it, I’m guessing prisoners will be eligible for reparations, even lifers! I bet investment bankers are rooting for reparations to come through. They’ll be managing all that money in a heartbeat.

  2. Not being a lawyer I probably do not understand all the ins and outs of this, but can’t Mr. Broadwater sue Alice Sebold?

  3. If she truly believes what she wrote, the money will follow the apology. I don’t care to dig into the details, but, if she actually made an honest mistake and then profited from it, the profits (ethically) don’t belong to her alone.

  4. Broadwater had better purchase tangible assets with that settlement while the dollar is still worth something. It’s probably worth noticeably less already than when the figure was arrived at.

  5. I find it difficult to blame her. If a woman has been raped and she sees someone whom she honestly believes is the person who raped her, it is her duty to report him so that he does not rape more women.
    But the state in prosecuting Broadwater made two errors. One, relying on an eye witness identification as if eye witness identification were accurate. It is not. Two, relying on hair sample evidence as if it were accurate. It is one of several forensic techniques that has never been proven scientifically.
    So with these two pieces of unreliable evidence the DA should not have prosecuted him.

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