Nobel literature prize panel boss steps down over sex abuse scandal

Nobel literature prize panel boss steps down over sex abuse scandal

The Nobel Foundation Board has sharply criticized the Swedish Academy, which chooses the Nobel Literature Prize victor each year, for damaging its own reputation and threatening to tarnish the reputation of the Nobel Prize itself.

"It has already affected the Nobel Prize quite severely and that is quite a big problem", said Sara Danius, as she resigned.

"It was the wish of the Academy that I should leave my role as Permanent Secretary", Sara Danius told reporters.

Three male members of the Swedish Academy quit after the group held a secret vote and decided not to remove a female colleague whose husband is in embroiled in sexual misconduct allegations.

A schism in the Swedish Academy, which has awarded the prize since 1901, erupted into the open last week, the culmination of a scandal that stretches back to November, when the newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported that 18 women had accused Jean-Claude Arnault, a major cultural figure with close ties to the academy, of sexual assault and harassment.

On Wednesday, King Carl XVI Gustaf, a patron of the academy, said the difficulties surrounding the probe "are very unfortunate and risk seriously harming the academy's important work".

With Thursday's announcement, seven of the academy's 18 members have stepped down, casting doubts as to whether the organization can function properly.

Academicians are life-long members and cannot, in principle, resign, but they can leave their chairs empty. However, there is nothing forcing them to actively participate if they choose not to do so.

Stockholm prosecutors announced in mid-March that parts of the investigation against the sexual abuse suspect - concerning allegations of rape and assualt between 2013 and 2015 - had been dropped due to lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, Arnault's lawyer Bjorn Hurtig told Reuters, "Jean-Claude Arnault rejects all claims of criminal activity and he rejects other allegations that have been made against him".

Arnault denies the accusations, and Frostenson has refused to step down from the academy, despite calls for her to do so. You can sign up to receive it directly here.