How hard was it to crack the case that exonerated the man accused of raping Beautiful Bones author Alice Sebold in 1981 when she was a college freshman in Syracuse?
Tim Mucciante was the film producer responsible for making the movie version. Lucky,Sebold writes about the rape in his book, “The miscarriage justice seemed obvious,” The Guardian. Sebold was wrongly prosecuted because he had been identified by the district attorney as a different person in a lineup of police officers than her first identification. However, the film’s production crew assured Sebold the book had been checked for accuracy so that he could relax.
Mucciante did not chill out. To avoid stereotyping, he resisted the suggestion of his director that they alter the race the rapist to be from black to a white one. This willingness to hide basic facts disturbed him even more. He wrote, “I started to feel that parts of the book dealing with her arrest and subsequent trial for her attacker weren’t credible” in an op-ed about the topic. The Los Angeles Times.
Although he was no longer involved in the production, he felt the need to continue investigating the matter. A month later, he employed a private detective. They found the identity of the man who was serving 16 years for Sebold’s sexual rape in just two days. He was a former Marine Anthony Broadwater. In the book, they gave him a pseudonym. After Mucciante and investigator got to the original files, they realized that the case shouldn’t have gone ahead.
Broadwater was first seen on a Syracuse street by Sebold five months later. He then became convinced that this was the man who raped her. It should have ended the case immediately, as he was not correctly identified in the line-up. But it did. The only other evidence against Broadwater was microscopic hair analysis—a forensic technique so fallible that the FBI admitted it was junk science in 2015.
Broadwater spent 16 years in prison. He was an adulterer and never married after he was freed. They would have to grow up in a home with a father who was a rapist and on the sex offenders registry. He now lives in poverty and does odd jobs. Sebold was raped 40 years ago, but he still maintains his innocence.
Mucciante is not blaming Sebold (18 years) for the American tragedy. Instead, Mucciante blames the “unethical and unscrupulous assistant District Attorney.” He blames all of the justice system.
He also questions the “39-year-old Sebold, who wrote,” Lucky.”Prior to writing her book, she was able to view a photograph of the entire police line-up. Wouldn’t being confronted with the fact that she identified a man—number five—who looks different from Broadwater—number four—send a chill of doubt up her spine? Mucciante asks, “Would she not have asked for the case to be reviewed?”
For her part, Sebold recently published an apology, writing:
I will regret for the rest my life, that Mr. Broadwater was wrongly convicted while I pursued justice through the legal process. He has spent 16 years in prison and in other ways that wound and stigmatize him, almost a life sentence.
Broadwater accepts her apology. He said, “It is sincere from her heart.” She knowingly admitted what she did.
He and Mucciante have also begun a documentary on the matter. It’s called—what else?—Unlucky.