The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa has suspended seven girls for sexual misconduct and the harassment of other pupils. The suspensions, first reported by the Afrikaans on Sunday newspaper, are the second sex controversy to plague the school, which opened with much fanfare in early 2007. According to the Telegraph:
According to the Afrikaans on Sunday newspaper, one 15-year-old "preyed" on a schoolmate and coerced others into lying to officials investigating the alleged incidents. Six other pupils have been excluded from the $46 million (£32 million) girls-only boarding school after being alleged to have touched each other intimately, or "intimidating others into partaking of inappropriate behaviours".
A letter sent to one of the suspended girls' parents 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 prior scandal came just ten months after the Academy's January 2007 opening when dorm matron Virginia Tiny Makgobo was arrested for "indecent assault and soliciting under-age girls to perform indecent acts". From AFP (November 2007):
An emotional Oprah Winfrey said she was "shaken to the core" by sexual abuse claims at her elite girls' school in South Africa.
"This has been one of the most devastating, if not the most devastating experience of my life," the US talk show host told journalists in Johannesburg via a live satellite link from Chicago.
"When I heard the news I spent about a half-hour crying ... I couldn't wrap my mind around it."