The former head matron of Oprah’s Leadership Academy in South Africa, has been acquitted of charges of abusing teenagers at her all-girls academy.
As previously reported, Tiny Virginia Makopo was accused by prosecutors of trying to kiss and fondle girls and a fellow supervisor at the school soon after it opened in 2007 outside Johannesburg.
Although 9 girls testified of abuse suffered at the hands of Makopo, the magistrate deemed that there was not enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt all of the charges that prosecutors claimed.
“The magistrate indicated that the state did not prove itself case beyond reasonable doubt on all the charges.” Mthunzi Mhaga, a spokesman for South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority said. “We won’t be appealing the judgment.”
Tiny Virginia Makopo
Oprah, who was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, stated that she was “profoundly disappointed” in the court’s decision. Winfrey, who called the allegations crushing, promised an overhaul of the school.
“I will forever be proud of the nine girls who testified with the courage and conviction to be heard,” Oprah said in a statement.
The lavish $40 million, 22-acre Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, which opened in January 2007, aims to give girls from deprived backgrounds a quality education in a country where schools are struggling to overcome the legacy of apartheid.
The school is home to about 300 girls from across the country.