Nobel literature prize scandal: Jean-Claude Arnault jailed for rape

Nobel literature prize scandal: Jean-Claude Arnault jailed for rape

The man at the center of a sex abuse and financial crimes scandal in Sweden that is tarnishing the academy that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature was convicted of rape and sentenced Monday to two years in prison.

A Swedish court found Jean-Claude Arnault guilty of raping a woman the night of October 5, 2011, in the case that has rocked the Swedish Academy, which doles out the prestigious annual prize.

He was acquitted of the December rape charge by the Stockholm district court on Monday.

The crisis forced the Swedish Academy to cancel this year's literature prize, which would have been announced this month, and prompted some of its 18 members to quit. The various scandals surrounding Arnault caused a serious rift in the Swedish Academy, as several members, including the secretary, began accusing each other, leading to several resignations.

The verdict was unanimous, according to Gudrun Antemar, head of the Stockholm District Court, who described the proceedings, which were mostly closed to the public, as "professional, dignified, and respectful" at a press conference following the verdict on October 1.

The scandal erupted in November 2017, a month after rape and sexual abuse accusations surfaced against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. He was sentenced to two years in prison, the minimum required under Swedish law.

The revelations left the Academy, which had funded his club for years, deeply divided over how to manage their ties to him and his wife, poet Katarina Frostenson.

"Six of the 18 members resigned or went on leave in the wake of the row, and several of them regularly trade ugly barbs via the media", reports The Local in Sweden.

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The judge, Gudrun Antemar, said there was "sufficient evidence, consisting mainly of statements during the trial by the injured party and several witnesses", to convict the defendant of one of the two counts of rape with which he had been charged.

Eight women filed formal complaints, but all bar one of the cases were subsequently dropped for lack of evidence or because they had exceeded the statute of limitations.

The trial was heard behind closed doors to protect the victim, whose identity has not been disclosed.

Arnault has been in protective custody since his trial concluded September 24 and will remain behind bars until the formal start of his sentence.

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

In ruins and without a quorum to make key decisions, the Academy postponed this year's Nobel Literature Prize, a first in 70 years. He arrived in Sweden in the late 1960s to study photography.

In a year when the Swedish Academy won't name a Nobel laureate in literature, a pop-up nonprofit called the New Academy is aiming to fill the gap.

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