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New York to Pay $5.5M to Man Exonerated in Sebold Rape Case

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Lady justice

On Monday, the court awarded damages of $5.5 million for Anthony Broadwater against New York State after 16 years in prison. In 1981, the court wrongfully convicted Anthony Broadwater of in the Sebold Rape Case of raping writer Alice Sebold in 1981 while she was a student at Syracuse University. However, in 2021, the court overturned its ruling in the Sebold Rape Case.

In his statement, Broadwater said he appreciates the work done by Attorney General James. He also said he hoped all those in similar situations could get the same measure of justice. In a statement released through a spokesperson, Sebold said no amount of money could erase the injustices suffered by Mr. Broadwater. However, she said the settlement would officially acknowledge the wrongdoing. 

Anthony Broadwater of the Sebold Rape case

In 1981, Alice Sebold was an 18-year-old first-year student at Syracuse. During May of the same year, a man raped her in a park near the campus. In 1999, Sebold published a memoir, “Lucky,” describing the attack and the ensuing prosecution. 

Sebold became famous for her 2000 novel “The Lovely Bones.” The book describes the aftermath of a teenage girl’s rape and murder. Eventually, the novel became a movie starring Susan Sarandon, Saoirse Ronan, and Stanley Tucci.

In 1982, the court tried and convicted Broadwater after Sebold identified him as her rapist on the witness stand. An expert witness also said microscopic hair analysis tied Broadwater to the crime. However, the U.S. Department of Justice has deemed this evidence unreliable.

In 1999, Broadwater was released from prison. However, the state still insisted that he registered as a sex offender until the court overturned his conviction in November 2021. William J. Fitzpatrick, the current district attorney for Onondaga county, said witness identification across racial lines was often unreliable.

Broadwater’s state settlement will need a judge’s approval before it becomes final. However, Broadwater has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Onondaga county, the city of Syracuse. The suit also indicts an assistant district attorney and a police officer involved in his prosecution.