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My role in clearing the man wrongly convicted of the rape of Alice Sebold | World news

Anthony Broadwater, a 61-year-old Syracuse, NY resident and former sailor, was cleared last week of the brutal rape, assault and robbery of best-selling author Alice Sebold. He was sentenced in 1982.

Sebold was savagely attacked on his way home to a friend late at night. Five months later, Sebold said he saw his attacker in downtown Syracuse.

Broadwater was arrested, placed in a police line, tried and sentenced. He spent over 16 years in prison and an additional 23 years as a registered sex offender.

His acquittal probably wouldn’t have happened without a series of weird and unusual events related to my role as executive producer on the film adaptation of Sebold’s bestseller, Fortunate, his memoirs on the attack.

When I first reviewed the book as part of my preparations for the film, less than a year ago, I realized that there were serious questions about the guilt of the man that Sebold named in the book as Gregory Madison, the pseudonym she gave to Anthony Broadwater.

During my first reading of the book, the part concerning Sebold’s attempt to identify his attacker in a police line disturbed me. Broadwater was suspect number four in the police roster, and Sebold chose suspect number five as his attacker.

Sebold writes Fortunate, “I placed my X in box number five. I had marked the wrong one. Sebold further wrote: “The numbers four and five looked like identical twins.”

Sebold’s failure to identify his attacker should have been the end of the case, with Broadwater being released. But it was not. Even without identification, the district attorney still sued Broadwater and he was convicted.

This miscarriage of justice was obvious to me, and I pointed it out to my colleagues on the production team. I was assured that the publisher had fact-checked and approved the book, so I should have confidence in the source material.

However, over time other aspects of the production raised red flags for me, such as director Karen Moncrieff’s insistence on changing the race of the actor playing Broadwater from a black actor to a white actor. .

Moncrieff’s reasoning was that she wanted to dispel the racial stereotype of a black man raping a white woman, but since the real perpetrator was African American, that didn’t make sense to me.

Perhaps she was apprehensive about the case herself, and wanted to make the film version as far removed as possible from the book, to “fictionalize” it in a way.

As executive producer, I refused to continue funding the project. I then hired Dan Myers, a private investigator in Syracuse, and within 48 hours we learned Gregory Madison’s real name and the basic facts behind the case. It quickly became clear that he was innocent of the crime he was accused of and had spent many years in prison.

This case has received a lot of media attention, and a question I get asked regularly is who is to blame? Is it Sebold, American justice or both?

I don’t think Sebold, as an 18-year-old rape victim, bears any blame. She was doing her best, being guided by an unethical and unscrupulous assistant district attorney.

But I have questions about Sebold, 39, who wrote Fortunate. Before writing the book, she had reviewed the entire prosecutor’s file, including the police photo.

Wouldn’t she have realized, in hindsight, that suspects four and five weren’t similar in appearance? Wouldn’t she have had the opportunity to speak up at that point, correct her mistake and justify her supposed attacker?

Without a doubt, what Sebold endured on the night of May 8, 1981 was appalling, unacceptable and tragic. But isn’t it just as tragic that she was able to know, in the mid-1990s, that he was almost certainly not her attacker and that he could have tried to free him?

The American justice system has obviously failed in Sebold and Broadwater as well. The Deputy District Attorney should never have allowed a case in which the victim was unable to identify the suspect to be tried. This is not just a failure of that person, but of all the law enforcement and legal professionals involved in this matter.

God knows how many other times such a parody has occurred across America.

There is another culprit who, in my opinion, bears some responsibility – and that is the media. Sebold had been interviewed countless times on Fortunate, and about his later bestselling novel The beautiful bones (which was also made into a movie).

Broadwater’s innocence was hidden in plain sight. Any of the many journalists interviewing Sebold could have pushed back what was, at first glance, an absurd story. A rape victim identifies the wrong suspect in a police line and the case goes to trial and the man goes to jail.

How doesn’t a reporter stop and say, “Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound good? “

My common sense told me that something was wrong with the story. The fact that the obvious truth has been ignored raises the bigger question: How widespread is it?

I must also admit that I could relate to something of what Broadwater went through – for I myself am a convicted felon, having served time for a bank fraud case and been struck off the practice of law, my profession of ‘origin.

I told him when we met: “I too have been imprisoned. I know what it is.

Fortunately, Broadwater, a person who refused to give up and confess to a crime he didn’t commit, is not broken.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the US justice system and the media and entertainment industry which simply did not sufficiently examine Sebold’s story.

Red Badge Films by Timothy Mucciante produces documentary on the Anthony Broadwater affair titled Unlucky.