Tuesday 17 September 2019

Man at centre of Nobel scandal in bid to reverse rape conviction

Jean-Claude Arnault declined to answer reporters’ questions as he arrived at the Svea Court of Appeals.

Jean-Claude Arnault , centre, is escorted from court (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency/AP)
Jean-Claude Arnault , centre, is escorted from court (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency/AP)

By Jan M Olsen, Associated Press

The man at the centre of the scandal at the academy that awards the Nobel Prize in literature has arrived at a Swedish appeals court in a bid to overturn his rape conviction and prison sentence.

Jean-Claude Arnault declined to answer reporters’ questions as he arrived at the Svea Court of Appeals.

While Arnault is seeking to overturn his two-year sentence, the victim’s lawyer wants him convicted of a second rape of the same woman seven years ago.

He was acquitted of that rape because the victim said she was asleep at the time, and the Stockholm District Court said her account was not reliable.

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Frenchman Jean-Claude Arnault is escorted from court (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency/AP)

The charges against Arnault — the husband of former Swedish Academy member Katarina Frostenson — have rocked the prestigious body.

He is also suspected of leaking the name of Nobel Prize literature winners — allegedly seven times, starting in 1996.

In May, the academy announced that no prize would be awarded this year.

The allegations against the Frenchman began in November 2017 when 18 women came forward in a Swedish newspaper.

An internal Swedish Academy investigation found in April that “unacceptable behaviour in the form of unwanted intimacy” had taken place within the ranks of the prestigious institution.

But a fierce internal debate over how to face up to the academy’s flaws in responding to the misconduct divided its 18 members.

Several members either left or disassociated themselves from the secretive academy.

Earlier this month, Jayne Svenungsson became the eighth person to leave the 18-member board of the Swedish Academy, saying she wanted to focus on her full-time job as a university theology professor.

The academy’s former permanent secretary, Sara Danius, quit in April at the same time as Frostenson, leading observers to wonder why some of Sweden’s most accomplished women appeared to be taking the fall for a man’s alleged misconduct.

After the sex abuse allegations surfaced, the academy’s annual funding to Arnault’s cultural centre was immediately stopped, although the body stressed it had not been paid to Arnault personally.

No date for a ruling by the appeals court was immediately available.

PA Media

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