Skip to main content

Oprah Winfrey says she's disappointed by school abuse case verdict

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
Oprah 'disappointed' over abuse verdict
  • Ex-matron at Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls was found not guilty of abuse
  • Tiny Virginia Makopo, 30, was charged after a student complained
  • Winfrey opened the South African girls school in 2007

(CNN) -- Talk show host Oprah Winfrey on Monday said she was not satisfied with the acquittal of a woman accused of abusing students at the her South African girls school.

Tiny Virginia Makopo, 30, was found not guilty of allegations that she improperly touched several teenage girls when she was a matron at the campus near Johannesburg soon after it opened in 2007, the South African Press Association reported Monday.

"We began this child molestation trial in July 2008," Winfrey said in a written statement. "More than two years later, I am profoundly disappointed at the outcome of the trial."

Winfrey -- who has spoken publicly about abuse she suffered as a child -- became personally involved in the abuse investigation after a student reported the alleged abuse in October 2007.

She cried for half an hour after receiving the call from the CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, and she then hired a team of American private investigators to work with South African police on the case, she said.

"I wanted to hire an independent team because my experience with child predators is that no one ever, ever abuses just one child," Winfrey said at the time.

Despite the verdict, Winfrey said she appreciated the efforts of the prosecutors and police, "who sought justice and treated the girls with the utmost care and respect."

"I will forever be proud of the nine girls who testified with the courage and conviction to be heard," Winfrey said.

When Winfrey opened the school at the beginning of 2007, she said she hoped it would provide opportunities to girls from poor backgrounds. She personally approved each of the students, many of whom were at the top of their classes.