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Sixth member quits Swedish Academy over sex scandal

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Sixth member quits Swedish Academy over sex scandal
The novelist Sara Stridsberg (L) accompanies Sara Danius from her last meeting as Permanent Secretary. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT
14:58 CEST+02:00
A sixth member of the Swedish Academy has announced she is stepping down over the institution's handling of sexual harassment allegations against a member's husband.
Sara Stridsberg, a novelist, on Friday asked for permission to stand down from her duties, the academy announced in a one-sentence press announcement sent out on Saturday. 
 
“The Swedish Academy would like to communicate that Saraa Stridsberg on April 27 has requested to leave her post as a member,” the Acacemy said. 
 
Anders Olsson, the Academy's temporary permanent secretary, told Sweden's TT newswire he regretted her decision. 
 
“We truly regret Sara Stridsberg's decision to leave the academy. We are currently engaged in a process of recovery for which her abilities would have been valuable.” 
 
Stridsberg had been one of the strongest supporters of the former permanent secretary Sara Danius, as she sought to expel the poet Katarina Frostenson, whose husband was accused in November of sexual harassment or assault by 18 different women. 
 
”I battled the whole of that evening for Sara Danius to be able to stay as permanent secretary,” she wrote in a text message on the day of Danius' resignation. “For me she had been a real hope.” 
 
The Academy now has just ten of its 18 members remaining active, following the decision of three members - Peter Englund, Klas Östergren and Kjell Espmark - to leave their post at the start of April in protest at a decision not to remove Frostesen. Frostensen and Danius then stepped down the following week. 
 
The French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault was accused of sexual harassment or assault by 18 different women in an article published in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper in November. 
 
An investigation into the accusations commissioned by the Academy and carried out by the law firm Hammarskiöld & Co in spring submitted a report to the academy which accused Arnault and Frostensen of financial improprieties, and Arnault of leaking the winner of the prize on seven separate occasions. 
 
On Friday, the Swedish Economic Crimes Agency announced it had launched a preliminary investigation into the Academy. 
 
Under the statutes which established the Academy in 1786, those appointed members remain so for life, whether they attend the weekly meetings or not. 
 
Even before the crisis, two surviving members were already inactive. One, Kerstin Ekman, stood down in 1989 in protest at the Academy's refusal to denounce Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini's call for the death of author Salman Rushdie. 
 
The other, Lotta Lotass, ceased being active in 2016, and has said she did so because she didn't feel welcome or that she fitted in to the Academy's culture.
 
She formally asked to leave in April after Kung Carl XVI Gustaf, who has authority over the body, said he might change its statutes so that members who have resigned can be replaced. 
 
 
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