June 12, 2018 / 12:22 PM / 6 months ago

Man at center of Nobel literature scandal charged with rape

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A Swedish state prosecutor has brought two charges of rape against the man at the center of a scandal that forced the Swedish Academy to cancel the award of the Nobel Prize for literature in 2018, the prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Late last year, 18 women accused photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, who is married to a member of the Academy, of sexual harassment and assault, leading to a preliminary investigation by state prosecutors.

District prosecutor Christina Voigt said on Tuesday that Arnault had been charged with two counts of rape against a woman in Stockholm in 2011.

“My view is that the evidence is solid and sufficient for charges to be brought,” Voigt said in a statement.

Arnault denies the allegations, as well as separate allegations that he was responsible for leaking the names of some prize-winners ahead of the official announcement.

“He maintains that he is completely innocent of the allegations,” Bjorn Hurtig, Arnault’s lawyer, told Reuters on Tuesday.

“I do not share the prosecutor’s view that the evidence is robust. Accounts differ, there is no technical evidence, there are no direct witness accounts and the events are a long time in the past.”

Prosecutors closed another preliminary investigation into a number of the abuse allegations against Arnault in March, citing insufficient evidence and because for some the statute of limitations had expired.

Several members of the Academy have resigned over how the institution, one of Sweden’s most prestigious, handled its own investigation into the allegations against Arnault.

Arcane rules meant that they could not be replaced and in May the committee said it would not hand out the Nobel Prize for Literature this year as it needed time to restore public trust.

Reporting by Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander; Editing by Niklas Pollard and Nick Tattersall

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