Rape charges against man at centre of Nobel prize scandal

Jean-Claude Arnault has been accused of sexual misconduct over three decades by 18 women. The scandal led to the cancellation of this year's Nobel Prize in literature.
Jean-Claude Arnault has been accused of sexual misconduct over three decades by 18 women. The scandal led to the cancellation of this year's Nobel Prize in literature.

The accusations against Jean-Claude Arnault saw this year's literature prize cancelled

STOCKHOLM • A Swedish prosecutor has brought rape charges against Jean-Claude Arnault, the man at the centre of a scandal that shook international cultural circles and led to the cancellation of this year's Nobel Prize in literature.

The charges are the first to emerge from a furore that has damaged the reputation of the Swedish Academy, the 232-year-old body that awards the literature prize, and has prompted power struggles, recriminations and resignations there.

Arnault, 71, has long been a cultural gatekeeper in Sweden and beyond - a French photographer who ran Forum, a cultural centre in Stockholm that received financial support from the Swedish Academy.

He is married to an academy member, and is close to others.

A number of women have accused him of using his sway in the arts world, including his connections to the academy, to pressure young women into sex, and have said that some offences took place at academy-owned apartments in Stockholm and Paris.

Many of the accusations concerned incidents too long ago for prosecution under Swedish law.

On Tuesday, the senior public prosecutor Christina Voigt charged Arnault with two counts of rape, both involving the same woman, in relation to incidents in 2011.

"I think my evidence is so good that I have to indict him," Ms Voigt said.

Arnault's lawyer, Mr Bjorn Hurtig, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but he has previously denied the allegations against his client and described them as a public "witch hunt."

Prosecutors charged Arnault with assaulting a woman in October 2011, forcing her to perform oral sex and have intercourse.

"He forced her by grabbing her and holding her very firm on her neck so she couldn't get away," Ms Voigt said.

In December 2011, prosecutors said, he raped the same woman while she slept.

The scandal erupted in November, when the newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported on accusations of sexual misconduct against Arnault by 18 women, over three decades, putting him and the Swedish Academy at the heart of Sweden's most prominent #MeToo episode yet.

One woman, Ms Anna-Karin Bylund, a textile artist, said she had written to the academy in 1996, warning of misconduct by Arnault, but her complaint was ignored.

As a result of the revelations, the academy cut its ties with Forum and police opened a criminal investigation.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2018, with the headline 'Rape charges against man at centre of Nobel prize scandal'. Print Edition | Subscribe