Jean-Claude Arnault, a French photographer and the man at the centre of a sexual abuse and financial misconduct scandal that led to the delay of 2018's Noble Prize in literature has been convicted of rape. The Stockholm district court in a unanimous verdict sentenced Arnault to two years in prison, the minimum sentence. As per reports, Judge Gudrun Antemar stated that there was sufficient evidence, consisting mainly of statements during the trial by the injured party and several witnesses' to charge the defendant, not on one but two counts of rape. The conviction came at the start of the Noble prize week, shortly before the award for medicine was announced.
Reportedly, Arnault's lawyer Björn Hurtig had earlier told the local media that his client would appeal if convicted. He further added that his client denies all charges against him and described the incident as a witch-hunt based on fundamentally flawed evidence. As per reports, the trial was held behind closed doors and the public prosecutor Christina Voigt, had asked the French photographer to be convicted for at least three years, given the maximum sentence in Sweden is for six years.
The 72-year-old is an influential figure in Sweden's cultural scene for many decades and has faced charges of forcing a woman to engage in oral sex and intercourse in a Stockholm apartment on October 5 in 2011 and further raping her again on December 2 in the same apartment while she was asleep, as reported. In a statement, the court said that Arnault has been found guilty on the first account and acquitted on the second. It further revealed that the injured party has been awarded compensation for the damages.
The scandal first broke out in November 2017 when a publication had posted detailed allegations by a total of 18 women accusing Arnault of rape, sexual and physical abuse for over a period of 20 years in Sweden and France. Around a total of eight women filed formal complaints but all bar one of the cases were dropped due to the lack of evidence. Reportedly, the women in the case, who is a writer and academic, informed the police of 2011 assaults just a few days after the publication posted the report soon after which the case went on trial.