October 12, 2010 05:01:10 GMT
The talk show queen has expressed her disappointment after Tiny Virginia Mokopo was acquitted of all child molestation charges, but praises the girls who testified against the matron.
Oprah Winfrey has expressed her "profound" disappointment after a former dorm matron at her all-girls school in South Africa was acquitted of child molestation charges on Monday, October 11. Tiny Virginia Mokopo pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of child abuse amid allegations she had attempted to kiss and fondle students and claims she had assaulted one of the teenagers as well as a co-worker at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, near Johannesburg, in 2007.
In court in Johannesburg on Monday, October 11, a jury acquitted Mokopo of all charges, including common assault, harassment, soliciting a minor to perform indecent acts and verbal abuse. The reported victims, aged between 13 and 15 at the time of the scandal, each testified against the matron during the lengthy trial, along with three witnesses, and Winfrey has praised their bravery throughout the police investigation.
In a statement, Winfrey says, "We began this child molestation trial in 2008. More than two years later, I am profoundly disappointed at the outcome of the trial. I will forever be proud of the nine girls who testified with the courage and conviction to be heard."
The prosecution is not planning to appeal the verdict.