Former Headmistress At Winfrey School Denies Prior Knowledge Of Abuse

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LATEST: The former headmistress of Oprah Winfrey's South African all-girls academy has denied all prior knowledge of the alleged abuse claims in the school, insisting there was no "cover-up". Ex-employee L.N. Mzamane hit out at the press on Thursday (08Nov07) after various reports claimed she knew a staff member had molested a number of the young pupils. Former dorm matron Virginia Mokgobo, 27, was arrested on 29 October (07) on numerous charges, including assault, indecent assault and soliciting underage girls to perform indecent acts, after a local newspaper article brought attention to the matter in October (07). A total of 15 victims have come forward. Mokgobo has been bailed pending further investigation. But Mzamane, who admits she was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the abuse allegations, insists she would never allow such behaviour to continue under her authority. In a statement issued by her Philadelphia attorney, Timothy McGowan, she adds, "Contrary to reports, I had no knowledge of abuse. "I did not and would never participate in any such cover up. As the head of the academy, my track record had been of one who acted decisively and in the best interests of the child where there was event a hint of inappropriate speech or action on campus." U.S. chatshow queen Winfrey co-founded the Henley-On-Klip Leadership Academy in 2006. She announced on Monday (05Nov07) that all dorm matrons had been fired amid the abuse allegations and Mzamane's one-year contract at the school was had not been renewed.


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