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Frenchman at centre of Nobel Prize scandal charged with rape

Jonas Ekstromer, TT NEWS AGENCY, AFP | Swedish Academy member Katarina Frostenson and her husband Jean-Claude Arnault at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, December 11, 2001.

A French culture figure at the centre of a scandal that splintered the Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Literature Prize has been charged with two counts of rape, Stockholm prosecutors said on Tuesday.

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Jean-Claude Arnault, who is married to a member of the Swedish Academy and is accused of sexual assault by 18 women, has been charged with raping a woman in Stockholm on two occasions in 2011.

He has denied the allegations.

"The evidence in this case is solid and sufficient enough for an indictment," prosecutor Christina Voigt told AFP, referring to indirect witness accounts that corroborate the victim's version of events.

No date has been set for the trial.

According to the charge sheet, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, Arnault, 71, allegedly forced the victim - who was in a state of "intense fear" - to have oral sex and intercourse in a Stockholm apartment on October 5, 2011.

He is also accused of raping her during the night of December 2-3 while she was asleep.

In November, in the wake of the global #MeToo movement, Sweden's newspaper of reference Dagens Nyheter published the testimonies of 18 women claiming to have been raped, sexually assaulted or harassed by Arnault.

Married to Academy member and poet Katarina Frostenson, Arnault has denied the allegations, but the Academy severed all ties to him and his cultural centre Forum which it had subsidised for years.

Disagreements within the Academy on how to deal with the issue sowed deep discord among its 18 members.

Six members quit, leaving the venerable Academy in disarray and without enough members to elect new members, according to its statutes.

In May, the Academy said it would not announce a Nobel Literature Prize this year - a first in almost 70 years -- because of the crisis.

'Relieved '  

The prosecution had opened an investigation based on the claims against Arnault published in Dagens Nyheter. In mid-March, it announced that it had dropped parts of the investigation concerning rape and sexual assault in 2013 and 2015 due to lack of evidence and the statute of limitations.

In an email to AFP, the lawyer representing the plaintiff said her client was "relieved and satisfied by the indictment".

"My client has been deeply affected by these events, she has been offended and humiliated in a particularly serious fashion," said Elisabeth Massi Fritz.

Arnault's lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment.

(AFP)

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