Oprah Winfrey is calling the abuse allegations at her $47 million Leadership Academy “one of the most devastating experiences” of her life.
"When I first heard about it I spent about a half-hour going around my house crying," she said in a news conference this morning.
The 53-year-old talk show titan appeared resolute as she called for justice and insisted the South African school can move forward after allegations that a matron had abused several young girls.
“What I know is, is that no one – not the accused nor any persons – can destroy the dream that I have held and the dream that each girl continues to hold for herself at this school," she said.
Oprah also admitted that the hiring process was inadequate, saying, “The buck always stops with me.”
At the same time, the woman in the center of the scandal – 27-year-old Virginia “Tiny” Makopo – appeared in a South African court this morning to face allegations of sexual and physical abuse.
Makopo, who did not enter a plea, has been formally charged with 13 counts of assault and criminal injury against at least six students aged 13 to 15 and one 23-year-old.
The former caregiver was released on $450 bail and is due back in court Dec. 13.