Advertisement

Producer Adapting Rape Memoir Realizes Story Doesn’t Make Sense, Helps Clear Man’s Name

Executive Producer Timothy Mucciante hired a private investigator to help exonerate Anthony J. Broadwater

producer helps clear man's name rape memoir alice sebold broadwater lucky the lovely bones
Anthony J. Broadwater, image via YouTube
Advertisement
Advertisement

    Timothy Mucciante was executive producing a film adaptation of Lucky, Alice Sebold’s 1999 memoir about being beaten and raped in 1981, when he noticed several issues with the subsequent trial that led to the conviction of Anthony J. Broadwater. Mucciante became so convinced that an injustice had occurred that he dropped out of the movie this past June, hired a private investigator, and turned over the findings to Broadwater’s lawyer. On Monday, as the New York Times reports, Broadwater was finally exonerated of the crime.

    Broadwater, now 61, was only 20 years old at the time of his arrest. He had returned home to Syracuse, New York from a stint in the Marines to spend time with his ill father. Throughout the trial, his father’s health worsened, and he died shortly after Broadwater arrived in prison. He was released in 1998, and has been trying for the last two decades to prove his innocence.

    The task was complicated by the publication of Sebold’s memoir in 1999, and again when her 2002 novel, The Lovely Bones, became an international bestseller. “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,” he said. “That’s very traumatic to me.”

    Advertisement

    Muccianti became involved after signing on to executive produce a film adaptation of Lucky. He noticed some discrepancies between the screenplay and the book, and as he looked deeper into Sebold’s memoir, he became concerned that law enforcement hadn’t done their due diligence.

    “I started having some doubts,” he said, “not about the story that Alice told about her assault, which was tragic, but the second part of her book about the trial, which didn’t hang together.”

    Sebold was raped in her freshman year at Syracuse University, and she notified campus police soon after the attack. She wrote that while she described the assailant’s features to the police, the resulting composite sketch didn’t resemble her memory.

    Advertisement

    Five months later, Broadwater passed Sebold on the street. She called the police, saying she thought she had just seen her attacker.

    Sebold failed to pick Broadwater out of a police lineup, writing in Lucky that moments after selecting a different man, she felt she’d made a mistake. The prosecution, apparently eager to secure a conviction, lied to Sebold, and told her that Broadwater and the man next to him were friends who had appeared together in the police lineup in order to confuse her. She later identified Broadwater as her attacker in court.

    Apart from Sebold’s testimony, the prosecution’s case rested on a form of hair analysis that has now been discredited. Broadwater’s lawyers, J. David Hammond and Melissa K. Swartz, argued that Sebold was influenced by prosecutorial misconduct during the police lineup, and that no evidence linked their client to the crime.

    Advertisement

    Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick agreed, joining the motion to vacate the conviction. He noted that Broadwater is Black and Sebold white, and that witness identification of strangers  are unreliable, especially when they cross racial or cultural lines. “I’m not going to sully these proceedings by saying, ‘I’m sorry,’” Fitzpatrick said on Monday. “That doesn’t cut it. This should never have happened.”

    State Supreme Court Justice Gordon J. Cuffy overturned all of Broadwater’s convictions, including first-degree rape and five related charges. Broadwater will no longer be labelled as a sex offender. “It’s a long day coming,” he said.

    “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 added. “I sympathize with her. But she was wrong.”

Personalized Stories

Around The Web

Advertisement