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    A man who spent 16 years in jail after being accused by Lovely Bones author Alice Sebold of sexual assault has had his conviction overturned.

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      Alice Sebold sexual assault

      Conviction for Sexual Assault of ‘The Lovely Bones’ Author Alice Sebold Overturned

      A man who spent 16 years in jail after being accused by Lovely Bones author Alice Sebold of sexual assault has had his conviction overturned.

      Anthony Broadwater, who is now 61-years-old, always maintained his innocence.

      The overturning of the conviction was supported by prosecutors, who accepted that he should never have been found guilty.

      Broadwater has asked for an apology from Sebold, who has remained silent.

      Sexual Assault Conviction Overturned

      Anthony Broadwater’s sexual assault conviction was finally overturned in November 2021. The state judge, sexual assault lawyers and the prosecutors all agreed that the case against him should never have been brought.

      The now 61-year-old labelled the decision, “a long day coming”. Speaking to media after the proceedings had concluded, he recalled years of stigma and isolation he faced as a registered sex offender.

      After his release from prison he struggled to find work. He was cut off from opportunities due to the sexual assault conviction.

      “On my two hands, I can count the people that allowed me to grace their homes and dinners, and I don’t get past 10…That’s very traumatic to me,” he said.

      Broadwater, who was released from prison in 1998, had been saving to hire lawyer after lawyer to try and prove his innocence.

      He said that he and his wife, Elizabeth, had wanted to have children, but he felt they could not due to the stigma of a sexual assault conviction.

      What Happened to Alice Sebold?

      The overturning of the conviction has raised doubts about what happened to Alice Sebold. These concerns led to the movie adaptation of her book Lucky being dropped and losing financing.

      The executive producer, Timothy Mucciante became worried about the veracity of events in the book and left the project. Mucciante has been commended for the stance he took and his decision to leave the production in June 2021 because of his scepticism about the case and how it was being portrayed in the film.

      In fact, Mucciante was pivotal in having Anthony Broadwater’s conviction overturned. He hired a private investigator – Dan Myers – to examine the evidence against Broadwater.

      It was suggested to Broadwater that he provide the information to experienced sexual assault lawyers.

      Concerns Over Alice Sebold Lucky Story

      As it was based on the author’s life experience, concerns have been raised over the reliability of Alice Sebold’s Lucky story, which was published in 1999. Sebold used a fictitious name for Broadwater in her memoir, identifying him as Gregory Madison.

      Alice Sebold alleged that Anthony Broadwater had committed the sexual assault in 1981. She published a memoir nearly 20 years after the allegation, entitled Lucky.

      The book launched the literary career of Sebold, who later rose to fame with ‘The Lovely Bones’, a novel that also centres on sexual assault.

      Sebold claimed that she was sexually assaulted when she was a freshman at Syracuse University. She wrote that she told campus security about the attack immediately and went to police.

      A rape kit was administered, after which she described her assailant’s features to police. However, the author claimed the sketch didn’t resemble her attacker.

      Five months later, Anthony Broadwater was arrested after Alice Sebold passed him on the street and contacted police, claiming she may have seen her attacker.

      A police line-up was conducted where she identified a different man as the assailant.

      In her memoir, she wrote that Broadwater and the man next to him looked alike and that moments after she made her choice, she felt she had picked the wrong man. When the matter proceeded to trial, she changed her evidence and identified Broadwater in court.

      Broadwater recalled that he had just returned home to Syracuse from a stint serving in the Marine Corps in California when he was arrested. He was 20 years old at the time.

      He had gone home because his father was ill. His father’s health worsened during the trial, and he died shortly after Broadwater was sent to prison.

      Criminal Defence Lawyers File Appeal

      Criminal defence lawyers for Anthony Broadwater argued that the case had relied on Alice Sebold’s identification of Broadwater in the courtroom and a now-discredited method of microscopic hair analysis.

      Prosecutorial misconduct was also a factor during the police line-up. It was  alleged that the prosecutor had falsely told Sebold that Broadwater and the man next to him were friends who had purposely appeared in the line-up together to trick her – and that it had improperly influenced the author’s evidence in court.

      Unusually, prosecutors supported the appeal. They noted that witness identifications of strangers, particularly those that cross racial lines, are often unreliable. Alice Sebold is caucasian and Anthony Broadwater is African-American.

      “I’m not going to sully these proceedings by saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ that doesn’t cut it. This should never have happened,” prosecutor William Fitzpatrick told the court.

      Supreme Court Justice Gordon Cuffy agreed, and overturned Broadwater’s conviction sexual assault and five related charges. As a result he will no longer be categorised as a sex offender.

      No Apology from Alice Sebold

      Anthony Broadwater spoke out after the decision stating, “I just hope and pray that maybe Ms Sebold will come forward and say, ‘Hey, I made a grave mistake,’ and give me an apology,” Broadwater said.

      “I sympathise with her…but she was wrong.”

      Sebold had no comment on the decision, a spokesperson for Scribner, which published Lucky, said. The spokesperson said that the publisher had no plans to update the text.

      Sexual Assault Charges in NSW

      The definition of sexual assault is engaging in sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. It is contained in Section 61I of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

      Sexual assault allegations are far more common today than at any time in the past. Community attitudes have changed shifted, in large part due to the #metoo movement. Unsurprisingly, this has made fighting such allegations more difficult than ever before.

      Despite this there have been a number of recent examples of these charges being dismissed after an accused retains experienced criminal defence lawyers. You can read about some of those cases by clicking here. Having the experienced criminal lawyers for sexual assault charges will go a long way towards beating these charges.

      Call Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823. Or, you can email info@astorlegal.com.au.

      Often, a defence of ‘honest and reasonable mistake’ can be raised on the issue of consent. This is particularly so if the Accused took positive steps to determine whether consent was given. In this situation, if the Accused believes that the complainant was consenting, they may be able to defend the charge.

      Another common defence is identification. If the Crown cannot establish that the Accused was the offender, then the offence cannot be proved. Often experts can be used such as DNA, fingerprint, CCTV and intoxication experts to cast doubt on identification.

      The maximum penalty for sexual assault 14 years Imprisonment. There is also a Standard Non-Parole Period which is 7 years imprisonment.

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