Head of Nobel literature prize panel quits over handling of sexual misconduct allegations

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By Alice Cuddy  with Reuters
Head of Nobel literature prize panel quits over handling of sexual misconduct allegations
Copyright  TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/ via REUTERS

The head of the Swedish Academy that picks the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature has stepped down amid a growing crisis over the institution’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations.

Sara Danius, who has held the post since 2015, announced her decision following an emergency meeting of Academy members in Stockholm on Thursday.

“It was the wish of the Academy that I should leave my role as Permanent Secretary,” she told reporters. “I have made this decision with immediate effect.”

Her resignation came after the daily Dagens Nyheter in November published allegations from 18 women, who said they had been sexually harassed and assaulted by Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of Academy member Katarina Frostenson.

The Academy cut all ties with Arnault, whom it had helped financially in running a cultural club in Stockholm, following the allegations, which he has rejected.

But after the Academy voted against removing Frostenson last week, three of its members withdrew from their posts in protest.

Arcane rules that make appointments for life mean that members cannot technically resign, though they can stop participating in the Academy’s activities.

Shortly after Danius’ resignation, the Academy announced that Frostenson had also quit her post on the board “in the hope that the Swedish Academy will survive as an institution.”

The crisis has raised concerns that the image of the Nobel Prizes and Sweden’s reputation abroad could suffer.

“It has already affected the Nobel Prize quite severely and that is quite a big problem,” Danius said.