October 11, 2018

Jean-Claud Arnaud is sentenced to two years in prison for rape, bringing some closure to a period of great unrest for the Swedish Academy


This guy was a war profiteer.

The scandal plaguing the Swedish Academy found some small measure of resolution last week, as Jean-Claude Arnaud, husband of former Academy member Katarina Frostenson, was sentenced to two years in prison by a court in Stockholm, having been convicted of one count of rape, and acquitted of another. The verdict was given at the start of the Nobel Prize celebrations, shortly before the prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.”

As Jon Henley of the Guardian reported, this was the minimum sentence available to the judge, Gudrun Antemar, who in her verdict concluded that the prosecution had presented “sufficient evidence, consisting mainly of statements during the trial by the injured party and several witnesses.” Public prosecutor Christina Voigt had, in her closing statements several weeks ago, called for at least three years in prison. The maximum permissible sentence was six.

While the verdict may satisfy some, it just as surely falls short of justice for others, reasonably so. And despite the closure of legal proceedings initiated by the disclosure of Arnaud’s crimes, much remains uncertain about the future of the Nobel Prize Committee. The group remains in disarray, with this year’s prize cancelled for the first time since World War II, though the Academy has stated it’s intention to award two prizes in 2019.

Which is to say that, after a criminal case, which saw half of the charges dismissed, and which resulted in the shortest legally admissible conviction, and after a year of painful recrimination, and publicly aired trauma, things will likely go back to normal, much to the relief of prestigious publishers the world over, who will breath a sigh of relief knowing that their blue chip authors will be back in the news, vying for a shot at the Nobel Bump. We return you now to your regular programming.

Simon Reichley is the Director of Operations and Rights Manager at Melville House.