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A conviction for the rape of Alice Sebold, the award-winning author of “The Lovely Bones”, was overturned 40 years later due to serious mistakes made by the prosecution, officials said.

Anthony Broadwater, 61, was cleared Monday by New York Supreme Court Justice Gordon Cuffy of charges of assaulting Sebold while she was an 18-year-old freshman at Syracuse University in 1981. Sebold, now 58, wrote about the attack in his 1999 memoir, “Lucky”.

Sebold chose another man, not Broadwater, from a police line after the assault, but then identified Broadwater as his attacker on the witness stand.

She wrote in “Lucky” that Broadwater and the other man in the line-up looked “almost identical” and that she feared a defense lawyer would exploit a white woman’s confusion over two black men .

Broadwater spent 16 years in prison and had been on the New York sex offender registry since his release in 1999. He will now be removed from that list.

Broadwater dropped his head in his hands and sobbed when the judge cleared him. (See video above.) “I never, ever thought I would see the day I was exonerated,” he said after the hearing.

“I have cried tears of joy and relief for the past few days,” Broadwater told The Associated Press the next day. “I’m so thrilled that even the cold can’t keep me cold. “

He told the New York Times: “I just hope and pray that maybe Ms. Sebold will show up and say, ‘Hey, I made a big mistake,’ and apologize. “I sympathize with her. But she was wrong.

Broadwater recounted the damage the conviction had taken on his life, even after his release from prison. He refused to have children because of the stigma of his conviction, he told the Syracuse Post-Standard.

During his hearing, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick called Broadwater’s conviction an injustice.

“I’m not going to mess this up by saying ‘I’m sorry’,” Fitzpatrick said. ” It’s not enough. It should never have happened. “

Broadwater was convicted in large part because of Sebold’s identification and because an expert witness said that microscopic analysis of the hair had linked him to the rape. The validity of this kind of analysis has since been ruled out by the Department of Justice. It was the only suspected medico-legal link to the crime.

Consideration of the case against Broadwater increased after “Lucky” was picked up in 2019 for a Netflix movie.

Executive producer Tim Mucciante began to question the conviction as he delved into Sebold’s script and memoir. He eventually abandoned the project and hired a private investigator in an investigation that ended in Fitzpatrick’s office. We don’t know what will happen to the film now.

Sebold, who lives in San Francisco, could not be reached for comment.

Her most notable novel, “The Lovely Bones”, is about the rape and murder of a teenage girl. The bestseller was adapted for cinema in 2009.

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