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He Was Convicted of Raping Alice Sebold. Then the Case Unraveled.

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tags: racism, crime, 1980s, Exonerations



The assailant was a stranger, but Ms. Sebold had studied his appearance — his small but muscular build, the way he gestured, his eyes and lips.

And so, five months later, when she spotted a man named Anthony Broadwater near a restaurant on Marshall Street, Ms. Sebold knew she had solved her case. She reported him to the authorities, saying that Mr. Broadwater had said to her, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

At the trial the following year, Ms. Sebold took the stand and described how she had celebrated the last day of the school year at a friend’s apartment, then left to head back to her dormitory, following a brick path through Thornden Park.

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“Is there any doubt in your mind, Miss Sebold, that the person that you saw on Marshall Street is the person who attacked you on May 8 in Thornden Park?” the prosecutor asked.

“No doubt whatsoever.”

Years later, Ms. Sebold would recount in a best-selling memoir that she felt confident justice had been served. She had been sweaty and shaky by the end of her testimony but was bolstered by the words of a bailiff.

“I’ve been in this business for 30 years,” he said. “You are the best rape witness I’ve ever seen on the stand.”

Anthony James Broadwater was born in Syracuse, the fourth of six boys, and lived for a while near Syracuse University, where his father worked as a janitor. He rarely set foot on campus, saying he felt that it was “off limits” to him and other young Black locals. Instead, he spent time at a community recreation center and the local Boys & Girls Club.

When he was about 5 years old, his mother died of pneumonia. It was he and his brother Wade who discovered her body on the couch in their living room.

Known as “Tony,” Anthony Broadwater was outgoing and rambunctious, often tussling with his siblings. Wade Broadwater recalled how his brother could get caught up in entertaining a crowd and was once stopped for letting kids ride on the roof of his car. While the police who patrolled the neighborhood were familiar with the brothers, Anthony Broadwater had never been accused of anything serious.

A skilled wrestler at Henninger High School, he dropped out around 17 and was intrigued when a Marine Corps recruiter said he could be on a flight to California within days. “I wanted to see the world and try to better myself,” he said.

Stationed at Twentynine Palms and Camp Pendleton, he ended up with a cyst on his wrist. He was discharged and received disability for the injury. He returned to Syracuse, where his father was ill with stomach cancer, and eventually took a job installing phones for a telecommunications company.

Read entire article at New York Times

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