Man at center of Nobel Literature scandal loses rape appeal
STOCKHOLM (AP) — The man with ties to the Swedish Academy that awards the Nobel Prize in literature lost his appeal Monday to have his rape conviction and a two-year prison sentence reversed and instead was convicted of a second rape.
The Svea Court of Appeal on Monday gave Jean-Claude Arnault 2 ½ years in jail for raping the same woman twice seven years ago.
In October, the 72-year-old Frenchman, who is married to a former member of the Swedish Academy board, was found guilty of one rape in 2011 and sentenced him to two years. He was acquitted of a second rape because the victim said she was asleep at the time and the lower Stockholm District Court said her account wasn’t reliable.
But the appeals court made “a different assessment,” saying it was “beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused was guilty of rape” in the second case.
The woman’s deposition “gave a credible impression,” adding that her account “was strongly supported by those of several witnesses,” and found them “reliable and sufficient” for a conviction. The court also said it had taken into consideration Arnault’s age and “the unusually long time from the offense committed to the prosecution.”
In Sweden, rape is punishable by a minimum of two years and a maximum of six years in prison.
Arnault’s lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, said the Frenchman was “seriously stunned, stupefied and saddened,” and they would appeal to Sweden’s Supreme Court.
Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the unnamed victim, told Swedish broadcaster SVT that her client was “extremely grateful and relieved.” Prosecutor Christina Voigt called the sentence “a reasonable penalty.”
The sex abuse scandal led eight Swedish Academy members to either leave or disassociate themselves from the secretive body’s 18-member board. Amid the chaos and reputational risk, this year’s Nobel literature award was postponed to 2019.
The charges against Arnault, the husband of poet Katarina Frostenson, have rocked the prestigious body and prompted Frostenson to leave it. He is also suspected of leaking the name of Nobel Prize literature winners — allegedly seven times, starting in 1996.
The Nobel Foundation warned the academy that if it doesn’t resolve its tarnished image, it could decide that another group would be a better Nobel host.
Earlier this month, the body said five Swedish Academy members and five outsiders — two authors, two critics and one translator — will pick two Nobel literature winners next year, the 2019 winner and the delayed 2018 winner. They will also later choose the 2020 Nobel winner. All are Swedes.
In 2017, 18 women came forward in a Swedish newspaper with abuse accusations against Arnault. An academy investigation found in April that “unacceptable behavior in the form of unwanted intimacy” had taken place in the ranks of the prestigious institution.
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 the taking the fall for a man’s alleged misconduct.
A fierce internal debate over how to face up to the academy’s flaws divided its members into hostile camps.
After the sex abuse allegations surfaced, the academy’s annual funding to Arnault’s cultural center was immediately halted, and the body stressed it had not been paid to Arnault personally.
Olsen reported from Copenhagen, Denmark.