King strips Frenchman jailed for rape of Swedish royal honour

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King strips Frenchman jailed for rape of Swedish royal honour
King Carl XVI Gustaf. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

King Carl XVI Gustaf has revoked a prestigious medal awarded to Jean-Claude Arnault several years ago, after the Swedish Supreme Court refused to let the Frenchman appeal his rape verdict.


Once an influential figure in Stockholm's cultural scene, 72-year-old Jean-Claude Arnault was in early December found guilty by a Stockholm appeals court of two counts of rape against one woman and sentenced to two years and six months in prison.

The scandal grabbed international headlines because of Arnault's close links with the Nobel Prize-awarding Swedish Academy, and led to the postponement of last year's literature prize.

On Tuesday Sweden's top court, the Supreme Court, refused to grant Arnault the right to appeal his sentence again. The court only takes on cases that may set a legal precedent, or when there are exceptional reasons to reconsider a ruling.

Following the decision, the Swedish Royal Court revoked Arnault's Order of the Polar Star – one of the highest merits offered to foreign citizens in Sweden. He received the order in 2015 by the culture minister at the time on Swedish Academy member Per Wästberg's recommendations.

The Royal Court, however, said they were never involved in the original decision.

"His Majesty the King may however, according to the regulations that apply to the order system, decide to revoke an order, which has today happened," it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Jean-Claude Arnault was jailed for raping a woman. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Arnualt's was one of the first big trials to come out of the #MeToo movement. He is married to Katarina Frostenson, a Swedish Academy member who resigned in the wake of the scandal.

One month after rape and sexual abuse accusations surfaced against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter in November 2017 published the testimonies of 18 women claiming to have been raped, sexually assaulted or harassed by Arnault.

The Frenchman ran the Forum club, which he founded in 1989 as a meeting place for the cultural elite and was popular among aspiring young authors hoping to make contact with publishers and writers.

The Swedish Academy, which funded his club for years, has 18 official members and Arnault often referred to himself as its "19th member". He reportedly occasionally leaked the names of Nobel winners to friends. The scandal left the prestigious body deeply divided over how to manage its ties with Arnault and his wife, with some members quitting the Academy.

His accusers claim the Academy was aware of Arnault's behaviour but ensured that "a culture of silence" reigned in cultural circles. Discredited and without a quorum to make key decisions, the Academy postponed for one year the announcement of the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize, for the first time in 70 years.

Several allegations against Arnault were dropped due to lack of evidence or because the statute of limitations had expired.


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