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Swedish court finds man at center of Nobel Academy scandal guilty of rape

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A Swedish court on Monday found a man at the center of a scandal that has rocked the academy that awards the Nobel literature prize guilty of rape and sentenced him to two years in jail.

The charges against Jean-Claude Arnault prompted some members of the Swedish Academy to quit and forced it to cancel this year’s prize, which would have been announced this month.

It is the biggest crisis to hit the Academy since a Swedish king founded it more than 200 years ago.

Arnault, 72 and married to a member of the Academy, pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape in a district court in Stockholm. The court acquitted him of one.

He will appeal against the guilty verdict, his lawyer Bjorn Hurtig told local news agency TT.

With the Swedish Academy members down to only 10 and statutes saying 12 are needed to vote in new members, previous Permanent Secretary Sara Danius and two other members who have effectively left have said they are willing to take part in important votes such as filling vacant seats.

The Nobel Foundation could drop the Swedish Academy from awarding its prestigious prize if it does not make further changes in response to the scandal, the head of the foundation told Reuters on Friday.

The verdict coincides with this year’s Nobel Prize announcements.

Additional reporting by Johan Ahlander, Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and John Stonestreet