Sex assault scandal postpones Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018

May 4 (UPI) — The Swedish Academy said Friday it will hold off on announcing its Nobel Prize in Literature until next year, over allegations of sexual assault.

In a statement, the Academy said it will award its 2018 Literature prize along with the 2019 winner — a move the organization has done five times previously.

This year will mark the first time since 1943 — in the midst of World War II — the prestigious prize has not been given out. The Nobel Prizes are announced in October.

The delay comes as the Academy struggles to contain damage from a sexual abuse scandal.

In November, divisions began to emerge when Jean-Claude Arnault, who ran a cultural project with funding from the Swedish Academy, was accused of sexual assault by 18 women.

Several of the reported incidents happened in properties belonging to the Academy. Arnault, the husband of Academy member Katarina Fronstein, has denied the allegations.

Last month, Academy chief Sara Danius stepped down amid criticism of the institution’s handling of the scandal.

Three members of the 18-member Academy withdrew in protest when it voted not to remove Fronstein.

The Academy said Friday it agrees group practices need to “evolve,” and it intends to modernize the interpretation of statutes and refresh internal work arrangements and external communication.

“The active members of the Swedish Academy are of course fully aware that the present crisis of confidence places high demands on a long-term and robust work for change,” Anders Olsson, interim permanent secretary, said.

“We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the Academy before the next laureate can be announced. This, out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation, and the general public.”

The Nobel Foundation said it supports the Swedish Academy’s decision to postpone the award.

“The crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize,” Carl Henrik Heldin, chairman of the Nobel Foundation, wrote in a statement. “Their decision underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize.”