Oprah School Facing Second Sex Scandal
The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy School for Girls is facing its second sex scandal since its opening in 2007.
Last week seven girls were expelled from the US talk-show host’s multimillion-rand boarding school in Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg — for sexual misconduct, Rapport newspaper said.
The paper reported that the girls allegedly tried to force pupils into relationships with each other, and to touch each other intimately.
The school is located in Henley-on-Clip, a small town south of Johannesburg, South Africa. The school was founded on Winfrey's dream of "building a first-class school to nurture, educate and turn gifted South African girls from impoverished backgrounds into the country's future leaders."
The $46 million school saw its first scandal in 2007, dealing with the school's matron, Tiny Makopo, who faced 13 charges. She is due back in court on June 1.
Tiny Makopo, was charged with indecent assault and crimen injuria, including one charge relating to an allegation that she kissed a 13- year-old girl and fondled her breasts. She pleaded not guilty. The case is still under way.
Parents of the suspended students were sent a letter informing them of the incident. The letter is said to have read,
"You have been found guilty of physical contact of a sexual nature with another pupil on campus, harassment, bullying other girls on campus and of being dishonest by not telling investigators the whole truth".
A suspended student denies the accusations against her and has pushed blame onto the other girls.
A spokesman for the Academy, which was established in January 2007, confirmed the suspensions.
"It is because they contravened the school's code of conduct," said Lisa Halliday. Declining to elaborate on the circumstances behind the girls' exclusions, she added: "We regard the incident as confidential."
In response to the first scandal,
a tearful Miss Winfrey - who has spoken of being a victim of abuse herself - said: "This has been one of the most devastating experiences, if not the most devastating experience, of my life. But like all such experiences there is much to be learned".
Furthermore, Winfrey fired "the headmistress and all dormitory matrons, and giving schoolgirls mobile phones with her personal number pre-programmed into the memory."