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American author Alice Sebold has apologised to the man who was wrongfully convicted of raping her when she was an 18-year-old student in 1981, after he spent 16 years behind bars.
Sebold, best known for writing The Lovely Bones, said in a statement that she will 'forever be sorry' for what Anthony Broadwater has been through.
The 58-year-old had written about the rape in her 1999 memoir Lucky, saying she was attacked when she was a student at Syracuse University in New York.
Months later, she alerted police after seeing a black man in the street - saying she believed he was the attacker.
Broadwater was then detained by police, having reportedly been in the area at the time.
Despite the fact that Sebold actually picked out another man in a police-line-up after Broadwater's arrest, he was tried and convicted based on her account, along with microscopic hair analysis.
He had always maintained his innocence, meaning he was repeatedly denied parole as he refused to admit to the crime.
Broadwater was eventually released from prison in 1998, but remained on the sex offenders register.
It wasn't until 22 November of this year that he was exonerated, after the case was re-examined and it was found he had been convicted on insufficient - and now-discredited - evidence.
In a statement published on Medium, Sebold said she was 'truly sorry' to Broadwater, adding: "I deeply regret what you have been through.
"I am sorry most of all for the fact that the life you could have led was unjustly robbed from you, and I know that no apology can change what happened to you and never will.
"Of the many things I wish for you, I hope most of all that you and your family will be granted the time and privacy to heal.
"40 years ago, as a traumatized 18-year-old rape victim, I chose to put my faith in the American legal system.
"My goal in 1982 was justice - not to perpetuate injustice. And certainly not to forever, and irreparably, alter a young man's life by the very crime that had altered mine."
Sebold said she felt 'grateful that Mr. Broadwater has finally been vindicated', but that 40 years ago he 'became another young Black man brutalized by our flawed legal system'.
"I will forever be sorry for what was done to him," she continued.
"Today, American society is starting to acknowledge and address the systemic issues in our judicial system that too often means that justice for some comes at the expense of others. Unfortunately, this was not a debate, or a conversation, or even a whisper when I reported my rape in 1981.
"It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened. I will continue to struggle with the role that I unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail.
"I will also grapple with the fact that my rapist will, in all likelihood, never be known, may have gone on to rape other women, and certainly will never serve the time in prison that Mr. Broadwater did.
"Throughout my life, I have always tried to act with integrity and to speak from a place of honesty. And so, I state here clearly that I will remain sorry for the rest of my life that while pursuing justice through the legal system, my own misfortune resulted in Mr. Broadwater's unfair conviction for which he has served not only 16 years behind bars but in ways that further serve to wound and stigmatize, nearly a full life sentence."
After Broadwater was formally exonerated and removed from the sex offenders register, he told the Associated Press: "I've been crying tears of joy and relief the last couple of days.
"I'm so elated, the cold can't even keep me cold."
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