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Nobel literature prize panel boss steps down over sex abuse scandal

15 April 2018

Two members of the Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Literature Prize, including the body's head Sara Danius, resigned Thursday, amid a growing crisis over a high-profile man accused of sexual assaults.

Having initially given Arnault financial help to run a cultural club in Stockholm, the Academy has now severed ties with him and launched an internal investigation.

The board of the Nobel Foundation, which manages the assets bequeathed in the will of dynamite inventor and philanthropist Alfred Nobel, has said it is following developments at the Academy with great concern.

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Her resignation comes after a Swedish newspaper reported that 18 women had made allegations of harassment and physical abuse against the husband of Katarina Frostenson, a member of the Academy.

Three members of the Academy withdrew last week over the issue, but arcane rules that make appointments for life mean that members can not technically resign, though they stop participating in activities. We can see that the trust in the Swedish Academy has been seriously damaged.

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

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Academy members are appointed for life and resignations are extremely rare.

Still, the loss of members leaves the committee at a crossroads. While according to academy rules, members cannot technically resign as appointments are made for life, but they can stop participating in its activities, according to Reuters. That means those who withdraw can not be replaced. Only 11 members are now active following the recent withdrawals.

The king is the academy's patron, and must approve any of the body's secret votes.

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The departures came after a week of turmoil that has shredded the reputation of one of Sweden's most famous cultural institutions and prompted both the Swedish king and the Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation to demand that the group get its act together before it tarnishes the reputation of the Nobel prizes. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he was surprised by the verbal abuse leveled by members at each other. "It is important that people have faith and respect for the Academy".

Nobel literature prize panel boss steps down over sex abuse scandal