French photographer in Nobel scandal jailed for rape

Stockholm: A French photographer at the centre of a sexual abuse and financial misconduct scandal that led to the postponement of 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature was on Monday sentenced to two years in prison for rape.

A Swedish court found Jean-Claude Arnault, 72, guilty on one count of rape against a woman in 2011 and dismissed another count of rape in the same year against the same woman, the Guardian reported.

Arnault is married to Katarina Frostenson, a poet and a former member of the centuries-old Swedish Academy, which awards the world’s most prestigious literary prize. The crisis forced the institution to cancel this year’s award.

The verdict came at the start of Nobel prize week, shortly before the award for medicine was announced.

The court 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.

“The defendant is found guilty of rape committed during the night between the October 5 and October 6, 2011,” the court said while announcing its verdict.

It added that the victim had also been “awarded compensation for damages” and ordered Arnault to pay about $12,000.

The victim’s lawyer, Elisabeth Massi Fritz, said her client was “relieved” following the verdict.

A total of 18 women accused Arnault of a range of sexual misconduct between 1996 and 2017. Most of the cases occurred too long ago to be prosecuted, but in June, charges were filed against him relating to two separate incidents involving the same woman in October 2011.

He denied all the incidents, many of which were said to have happened at properties owned by the Academy or at his literary club.

In light of the scandal, the Swedish Academy had cut ties with Arnault and commissioned an audit that found while he had not influenced decisions on awards and grants, financial support his literary club received from the Academy broke impartiality rules, as his wife was a co-owner.

The case sparked an internal conflict within the Academy and led to a wave of resignations, including by Frostenson and organisation head Sara Danius.

Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter had reported that an internal investigation by the Academy had concluded Arnault may have leaked the names of seven Nobel literature laureates — the subject of heavy betting — in advance of their announcement, including those of US singer Bob Dylan in 2016 and British playwright Harold Pinter in 2005.