Alice Sebold's New Life Is One of Grief and 'Shame'

Bestselling author hasn't yet met with Anthony Broadwater, whom she once thought raped her
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2023 4:35 PM CDT
Alice Sebold's New Life Is One of Grief and 'Shame'
Author Alice Sebold in a 2007 file photo.   (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg, File)

More than a year after the man she wrongfully accused of raping her had his conviction overturned, author Alice Sebold is still struggling to comprehend her role in what happened. "I still don't know where to go with this but to grief and to silence and to shame," Sebold, 60, tells Rachel Aviv of the New Yorker. Sebold, author of the bestsellers Lucky (a memoir about the rape) and the Lovely Bones (a novel about a raped and murdered girl), has stopped writing and even reading since the bombshell development, and she's also developed a "kind of vertigo," writes Aviv. The lengthy story digs into the details of the 1981 rape and what went wrong in the subsequent trial of Anthony Broadwater, who also speaks to Aviv and expresses his disappointment that Sebold has not asked to meet in person.

He does not, however, feel animosity toward the author. He says he would like to "compare notes" to see how prosecutors "duped her and kept her blind." Sebold, for her part, says she is attempting to first write a letter to Broadwater, who served 16 years in prison. When she envisions a meeting, Sebold suggests that "we might do nothing but stare at the floor or weep." Broadwater was arrested when Sebold spotted him on a street in Syracuse, New York, days after the rape and incorrectly identified him as her rapist. She later failed to pick him out of a police lineup, and the story delves into the questionable way the assistant district attorney handled that development. Since-debunked hair analysis also doomed Broadwater. "We both went through the fire," Broadwater says of himself and Sebold. The full story is well worth a read. (Check out other Longform stories.)

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