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Frenchman at centre of Nobel scandal jailed for rape in Sweden

Jonathan Nackstrand, AFP | Frenchman Jean-Claude Arnault arrives at the district court in Stockholm on September 19, 2018.

Jean-Claude Arnault, the Frenchman at the centre of a sexual assault scandal that prompted several members of the prestigious Swedish Academy to quit, has been sentenced by a Swedish court to two years in jail for rape.

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"The defendant is found guilty of rape committed during the night between the 5th and 6th of October 2011 and has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years," the Stockholm district court announced in its verdict on Monday, adding that the victim had been awarded compensation for damages.

The plaintiff, whose identity has not been disclosed, had accused Arnault of forcing her to have oral sex and intercourse in a Stockholm apartment in October 2011, and raping her in her sleep in December the same year.

Prior to the accusations, the 72-year-old Frenchman was a prominent figure in Sweden’s cultural life.

Married to Katarina Frostenson, a member of the Swedish Academy which has been selecting Nobel literature laureates since 1901, Arnault ran the Forum club in Stockholm, a key meeting place for the cultural elite and a popular spot among aspiring young authors hoping to make contact with publishers and writers.

In November 2017 – roughly a month after a string of explosive sexual accusations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein triggered the worldwide #MeToo movement – Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter published testimonies from a total of 18 women claiming to have either been raped, sexually assaulted or harassed by Arnault.

An internal investigation by the Academy later revealed that several members, as well as wives and daughters of members, had also experienced "unwanted intimacy" and "inappropriate" behaviour from the accused.

The scandal led to two of the Academy’s 18 members, including its permanent secretary Sara Danius, to resign. Several others, including Arnault’s wife, are no longer taking part in the Academy’s work as a consequence of the row but have not formally resigned.

In May, the academy announced that it would not award a Nobel prize in literature this year.

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