How Anthony Broadwater Was Exonerated 40 Years After He Was Convicted Of Author Alice Sebold’s Rape

“I know that no apology can change what happened to you and never will,” she recently told him in a letter.

February 11, 2022
SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 1: Anthony Broadwater, at his lawyers office, CDH Law, Wednesday, December 1, 2021. Mr. Broadwater was wrongfully convicted of Alice Sebolds 1981 rape and spent 16 years in prison. He was released in 1999 and his conviction was overturned on Monday, November 22. He will no longer be categorized as a sex offender.


Anthony Broadwater

Photo by: Matt Burkhartt for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Matt Burkhartt for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Anthony Broadwater

By: Aaron Rasmussen

The man who spent 16 years behind bars for the rape of author Alice Sebold was recently exonerated after the case against him was found to be fundamentally flawed.

“I deeply regret what you have been through,” Sebold told 61-year-old Anthony Broadwater in a Nov. 30 statement posted on Medium. “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.”

“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,” she wrote.

In Sebold’s 1999 memoir Lucky, she detailed how she was an 18-year-old student in Syracuse, New York, when a Black man raped her in Thornden Park in May 1981.

Sebold reported the crime, but there were no arrests until five months later, when she passed a man on the street who she believed may be her attacker. Police arrested Broadwater, who was 20 at the time and had recently returned home to Syracuse from serving in the Marine Corps in California because his father was ill.

In 1982, Broadwater was found guilty of sexually assaulting Sebold. He always denied he had anything to do with the crime and tried to clear his name for decades, including after his release from prison in 1998.

A key issue in the case against Broadwater, his defense lawyers argued in their motion to vacate the conviction, was the reliance on the analysis of microscopic hair evidence collected after Sebold’s rape. The Justice Department and FBI formally acknowledged in 2015 that the technology was flawed and led examiners to give testimony that overwhelmingly favored prosecutors, The Washington Post reported.

Prosecutorial misconduct was another major factor in Broadwater’s conviction, his attorneys said. After Broadwater’s arrest 40 years ago, he and four other men were put in a police lineup. Sebold initially identified another man as her attacker, but prosecutors at the time falsely told her the person she indicated and Broadwater were friends and they deceived her by standing next to one another. According to Broadwater’s lawyers, Sebold’s subsequent testimony was improperly influenced.

After Broadwater was exonerated on Nov. 22, Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick said witness identification of strangers is often unreliable, particularly in cases in which racial lines are crossed, as in the case with Sebold, who is white, and Broadwater, The New York Times reported.

“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,” Sebold, 58, said in her statement.

Broadwater said Sebold’s remorse “was a big relief.”

“She knowingly admits what happened,” he told “I accept her apology.”

Next Up

How Convicted Pedophile Larry Nassar Escaped Justice For So Long

“He in fact is, was, and forever shall be, a child molester, and a monster of a human being,” one victim says of the disgraced doctor.

5 Facts You May Not Know About Cleveland 'House Of Horrors' Kidnapper Ariel Castro

How a fired school bus driver abducted three young women and held them in his home for a decade — until one victim escaped with the daughter she’d had in captivity.

How A Florida Serial Rapist Became The First Person In The United States To Be Convicted By DNA Evidence

A news report and magazine advertisement in 1986 were key in bringing Tommie Lee Andrews to justice.

Central Park Jogger Case: How Did 5 Innocent Teenagers Get Charged For Brutal Rape?

The falsely accused boys, who became known as “The Central Park Five”, were all acquitted, but only after serving their sentences.

Alabama Woman Claims Self-Defense After Killing Man She Says Raped Her During Brutal Attack

“I did what I thought I had to do, what I did have to do, no doubt in my mind,” Brittany Smith insists of fatally shooting Todd Smith.

Manhattan Man Charged With Sex Trafficking 14-Year-Old Girl Running Away From Home

Glen Johnson, 62, met the victim at Manhattan’s Penn Station and offered to ‘take care of her’ before allegedly raping and trafficking her.

San Antonio Four: Friends Accused Of Raping 2 Girls Fought For 20 Years To Clear Their Names

“I’m sorry it has taken this long for me to know what truly happened,” one of the children involved later said.

Police Crack 1980 Cold Case Murder Of New York Woman Murdered While Walking Home From Work

“She was a real person,” Irene Wilkowitz says of her sister, Eve, who was killed on her way home from work in 1980.

DNA Helps Solve The 1984 Cold Case Murder Of Donna Macho

New Jersey teen Donna Macho was brutally attacked and murdered in 1984, and after nearly three decades, her killer was positively identified.

Man Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder Exonerated After He Served 33 Years In Prison

Keith Bush says that “there was something that drove me, enabled me to continue to fight.”