Writer Alice Sebold and man wrongfully convicted of raping her speak out: ‘ We’ve both been through the fire’

Alice Sebold  (Getty)
Alice Sebold (Getty)

Alice Sebold, the author of the best-selling novel The Lovely Bones, and Anthony Broadwater, the man who was wrongfully convicted of raping her, have both spoken out, months after his exoneration.

Ms Sebold and Mr Broadwater spoke to journalist Rachel Aviv, for an article published on Monday (22 May) in The New Yorker.

“I still don’t know where to go with this but to grief and to silence and to shame,” Ms Sebold wrote to Ms Aviv.

Mr Broadwater told Ms Aviv: “We both went through the fire. You see movies about rape and the young lady is scrubbing herself in the shower, over and over. And I’m saying to myself, ‘Damn, I feel the same way.’ Will it ever be gone from my memory, my mind, my thoughts? No. And it’s not going to be gone for her, either.”

Ms Sebold was a college student when she was raped in Syracuse, New York in 1981. Mr Broadwater, a Black man, was arrested and convicted of the attack in 1982, despite the fact that – as noted by The Associated Press – Ms Sebold had not recognized him in a lineup.

Anthony Broadwater outside court after his exoneration in 2021 (
Anthony Broadwater outside court after his exoneration in 2021 (

Mr Broadwater was released from prison in 1999, but was not exonerated until November 2021, when a judge overturned his conviction. Defence lawyer David Hammond said the wrongful conviction happened as the result of “junk science” hair analysis and “a faulty identification”, reported at the time.

“I’m not going to sully this proceeding by saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ That doesn’t cut it,” Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said at the time, according to “This should never have happened.”

Mr Broadwater was reported in March to have settled a lawsuit against New York State for $5.5m over his wrongful conviction.