Posted October 01, 2018 23:16:37

A Swedish court has found the man at the centre of the scandal rocking the academy responsible for the Nobel Prize in Literature guilty of rape, and sentenced him to two years in jail.

Key points:

  • Jean-Claude Arnault pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape, and was acquitted of one
  • The charges forced the Swedish Academy to cancel this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature
  • Arnault is married to a former academy member who quit in April

The crisis over the charges against Jean-Claude Arnault forced the Swedish Academy to cancel this year’s literature prize and prompted some members of the Academy to quit.

The award would have been announced this month.

It is the biggest scandal to hit the Academy since a Swedish king founded it more than 200 years ago.

Arnault, 72, pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape in a district court in Stockholm. The court acquitted him of one.

There were no immediate comments from his lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, who earlier had said they would appeal if he was convicted.

A French citizen, Arnault is married to poet and former Swedish Academy member Katarina Frostenson. She quit in April at the same time as former permanent secretary Sara Danius.

On top of that, Arnault also has been suspected of violating century-old Nobel rules by leaking names of winners of the prestigious award — allegedly seven times, starting in 1996.

It remains unclear to whom the names were allegedly disclosed, and it is not known whether it has been investigated.

All the allegations have shredded the Academy’s credibility, called into question its judgment and the scandal has sparked a debate over how to face up to its flaws.

It has divided the body’s 18 members, who are appointed for life, into hostile camps and prompted seven members of the prestigious institution to leave or disassociate themselves from it.

Many in the Scandinavian nation known for promoting gender equality have expressed dismay over the scandal, which has given rise to accusations of patriarchal leanings among some members within the Academy.

The Nobel Foundation could drop the Swedish Academy from awarding its prestigious literature prize if the Academy does not make further changes in the wake of the sex scandal, the head of the foundation told Reuters last week.

In April, the Swedish Academy said an internal investigation into sexual misconduct allegations found that “unacceptable behaviour in the form of unwanted intimacy” had taken place within the ranks of the prestigious institution.

The verdict coincides with this year’s Nobel Prize announcements.

Reuters/AP

Topics: law-crime-and-justice, sexual-offences, awards-and-prizes, books-literature, sweden

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