Man at Center of Nobel Body Scandal Tests Rape Conviction

November 12, 2018 Updated: November 12, 2018

STOCKHOLM—The man at the center of the scandal at the academy that awards the Nobel Prize in literature arrived on Nov. 12, at a Swedish appeals court in handcuffs, hoping his rape conviction and a two-year prison sentence will be reversed.

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

While Arnault is seeking to overturn his rape conviction, 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 wasn’t reliable.

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 behavior 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 the taking the fall for a man’s alleged misconduct.

After the sex abuse allegations surfaced, the academy’s annual funding to Arnault’s cultural center 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.

By Jan M. Olsen