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World

AFP
December 3, 2018

Frenchman in Nobel rape scandal found guilty on appeal

World

AFP
Mon, Dec, 18

STOCKHOLM: A Frenchman at the centre of a scandal that led to the postponement of this year´s Nobel Literature Prize was on Monday found guilty on appeal of two counts of rape and jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Once an influential figure in Stockholm´s cultural scene, 72-year-old Jean-Claude Arnault was convicted by a Stockholm appeals court of raping a young woman in October 2011 and again in December the same year.

He had pleaded innocent to the charges, insisting the sex was consensual.

A Stockholm district court had in October found him guilty of the first count of rape but acquitted him of the second, and had sentenced him to two years behind bars.

"The appeals court has come to a different conclusion and considers it proven beyond a doubt that the accused is guilty of rape on the second occasion as well," the appeals court said in a statement.

The case was one of the first big trials to come out of the #MeToo movement, and has left the venerable Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Literature Prize, in tatters.

Arnault is married to Katarina Frostenson, a Swedish Academy member who has rarely spoken out since the scandal erupted.

He has been locked up since his conviction by the lower court.

The scandal erupted in November 2017, one month after rape and sexual abuse accusations surfaced against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

At the time, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter published the testimonies of 18 women claiming to have been raped, sexually assaulted or harassed by Arnault.

The Frenchman ran the Forum club, which he founded in 1989 as a meeting place for the cultural elite and was popular among aspiring young authors hoping to make contact with publishers and writers.

The Swedish Academy, which funded his club for years, has 18 members and Arnault often referred to himself as its "19th member". He reportedly occasionally leaked the names of Nobel winners to friends.

The revelations have left the prestigious body deeply divided over how to manage its ties with Arnault and his wife, with some members quitting the Academy.

His accusers claim the Academy was aware of Arnault´s behaviour but ensured that "a culture of silence" reigned in cultural circles.

Discredited and without a quorum to make key decisions, the Academy postponed the announcement of the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize for the first time in 70 years.

Several allegations against Arnault were dropped due to lack of evidence or because the statute of limitations had expired.