Author Alice Sebold apologised Tuesday to the man who was exonerated of the 1981 rape featured in her memoir, Lucky, saying she struggled with the role she “unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail.”
The man, Anthony Broadwater, 68, was convicted in 1982 of raping Sebold, 58, and served 16 years in prison. The conviction was overturned last week after authorities found serious flaws in the original arrest and the trial.
Sebold, who also wrote the novels The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon, based her 1999 memoir, Lucky, on her rape when she was a student at Syracuse University.
In a statement to The Associated Press, which was later posted on Medium, Sebold apologized to Broadwater for her role in his conviction. She wrote that as a “traumatized 18-year-old rape victim,” she chose to put her faith in the legal system.
“My goal in 1982 was justice — not to perpetuate injustice,” she said. “And certainly not to forever, and irreparably, alter a young man’s life by the very crime that had altered mine.”
In a written statement Tuesday, publisher Scribner and Simon & Schuster said distribution of Lucky in all its formats would cease “while Sebold and Scribner together consider how the work might be revised.”
The decision was made following Broadwater’s exoneration and in consultation with Sebold, the statement said.
Sebold wrote in Lucky that she was raped and that several months later, she saw a Black man walking down the street who she believed was the person who attacked her. Sebold, who is white, reported her experience to police. An officer suggested that the man was Broadwater, who had supposedly been seen in the area.
Sebold failed to identify Broadwater in a police lineup after he was arrested. She wrote in Lucky that she picked a different man based on the “expression in his eyes.”