Alice Sebold has apologized for her role in ruining a young Black man's life 40 years ago. The author of The Lovely Bones issued a public apology Tuesday to Anthony Broadwater Jr., who spent 16 years in prison after Sebold saw him on a street in Syracuse and told police he was the man who had raped her months earlier, BuzzFeed reports. She later picked a different Black man out of a police lineup, but prosecutors still put Broadwater on trial and Sebold, who is white, testified that he was the rapist. "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 said in a statement to the AP. "As a traumatized 18-year-old rape victim, I chose to put my faith in the American legal system," she said.
Sebold, in her first public remarks since Broadwater was exonerated last week, said it had taken her 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," she said. "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." In a statement issued through his lawyers, Broadwater, who was released from prison in 1998 but felt stigmatized by the rape conviction and struggled to find work, said he was relieved that Sebold had apologized.
"It must have taken a lot of courage for her to do that," Broadwater said. "It’s still painful to me because I was wrongfully convicted, but this will help me in my process to come to peace with what happened." Sebold wrote about the rape and trial in her memoir Lucky. Variety reports that a movie adaptation of the book has now been abandoned. Executive producer Timothy Mucciante played a major role in getting the conviction overturned. He left the project in June last year after he started having doubts about the case and hired a private investigator to look into the evidence against Broadwater. (Read more Alice Sebold stories.)