NY agrees to pay $5.5M to man exonerated in Alice Sebold’s rape

New York state has agreed to pay $5.5 million to a man who was exonerated after spending 16 years in prison for the rape of award-winning novelist Alice Sebold when she was a student at Syracuse University in 1981, The Post has learned.

Anthony Broadwater, 62, sued the state for damages after his conviction was overturned by a judge in November 2021 — nearly 22 years following his release from prison in 1999.

At a hearing last month, Syracuse Court of Claims Judge Ramon Rivera was presented with the $5.5 million settlement agreement signed by his attorneys and lawyers from the New York Attorney General’s office.

Rivera must still sign the agreement, but Broadwater’s lawyer Melissa Swartz told The Post on Monday the judge didn’t raise any objection to the proposed settlement and she expected he would sign off on it.

“Tony is grateful to the state of New York for swiftly resolving this matter,” Swartz said.

“I appreciate what Attorney General James has done and I hope and pray that others in my situation can receive the same measure of justice,” Broadwater said in a statement through a lawyer. “We all suffer from destroyed lives.”

Anthony Broadwater has reached at $5.5 million settlement agreement with New York over his wrongful rape conviction.
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Seabold – renowned for writing 2002 novel “The Lovely Bones,” that was made into a movie – wrote the 1999 memoir “Lucky” about her experience being raped. The memoir led a review of the murder case.

The judge overturned Broadwater’s conviction because of flaws in the prosecution case – and Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick apologized to Broadwater at the time of his exoneration.

“This should never have happened,” Fitzpatrick said.

Alice Sebold
Broadwater served 16 years in prison for the rape of novelist Alice Sebold.
Getty Images

Swartz said the settlement agreement is “just the first step” in her client’s quest for vindication.

Broadwater still has a federal lawsuit pending against Syracuse, Onondaga County and the detective and the district attorney who investigated and prosecuted the now-40-year-old case.

“We are happy that this first step has been completed,” Swartz said. “And Tony is obviously happy to be able to financially have some security but in terms of vindication, we believe that [federal] lawsuit will give him the vindication he deserves.”

Broadwater was relieved that the AG’s office offered the settlement before taking his deposition since the wrongful conviction was “extremely traumatic,” Swartz said. She noted that Broadwater had been deposed by Syracuse in his federal case.

"Lucky" book cover.
Sebold’s memoir “Lucky” was a recounting of her rape experience
Simon & Schuster

The AG’s office declined to comment.

The review of the case that led to Broadwater’s conviction found that cops at the time of the rape failed to locate a suspect following a sweep of the area.

An officer claimed it must have been Broadwater who had supposedly been spotted near the scene of the crime.

But Sebold failed to identify Broadwater as her assailant in a line up, picking out a different man.

Anthony Broadwater
Broadwater’s conviction was overturned in 2021.

Broadwater was ultimately convicted when Sebold identified him in the courtroom during her testimony. And an expert testified that a microscopic hair linked him to the assault.

The type of hair analysis is now regarded as junk science by the US Department of Justice.

Police line up from the case
Sebold picked a different man out of a line up with Broadwater but she still identified him as her assailant in court.

“Lucky,” Sebold’s memoir describing the rape, was slated to be turned into a movie by Netflix but the project was cancelled after the conviction was overturned, Variety reported at the time.

Tim Mucciante was one of the producers slated for the movie but backed out of the project and hired a private investigator to look into Broadwater’s case after he found discrepancies between the memoir and the movie script.

Sebold’s novel “The Lovely Bones” won the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award for Adult Fiction in 2003 and was made into a 2009 movie starring Saoirse Ronan, Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci.

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