Anthony Broadwater, 61, who served 16 years for raping the writer Alice Siebold, was acquitted this week by the New York State Supreme Court and found not guilty of the crime. The acquittal stemmed from serious flaws in the 1982 investigation and fears that the wrong person had been sent to prison.
Alice Siebold was a student at Syracuse University when she was assaulted and raped in 1981. She described this incident in her 1999 memoir “Happy”. The theme of violence became central to her 2002 book The Lovely Bones, which became a world bestseller and was filmed.
The poster of the film “Lovely Bones”
In 1981, after being raped, Siebold stated that she had met a black man on the street, in whom she allegedly recognized her abuser. The woman contacted the police, but she did not know the name of this man, and during the initial inspection of the area, he was not found. The officer suggested that the man on the street must have been Broadwater, who was allegedly seen in the area.
However, after the arrest of Broadwater, Siebold was unable to identify him, pointing first to the other man. She later explained this by the fact that the two men looked alike. Nonetheless, Broadwater was convicted in 1982 on the basis of two pieces of evidence: Siebold did identify him as a rapist, and an expert determined Broadwater to be involved in the crime based on microscopic hair analysis.
The man spent 16 years in prison and was released in 1999. After his release, he still remained on the register of sex offenders.
Broadwater, who has worked as a scavenger and handyman since his release from prison, said the conviction negatively affected his job prospects and his relationships with friends and family.
Even after he married a woman who believed in his innocence, Broadwater never wanted to have children for fear of how his life might be affected by his imprisonment on such a charge.
Broadwater owes his justification to producer Tim Mucciante, who worked on the adaptation of Happy. While working on the script, he became skeptical about Broadwater's guilt.
I started digging and trying to figure out what really happened here,
Mucciante told AP.
Mucciante eventually pulled out of the project and hired a private investigator to investigate the case.
Broadwater himself could not hold back his tears when he learned that he was acquitted. Sibold, 58, has yet to comment on the court's decision.