Oprah Settles Defamation Suit with Former Headmistress

March 25, 2010

The TV Talkshow Host known worldwide has escaped appealing in court on Monday as Oprah settles the defamation suit filed by the former headmistress of her leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg. Nomvuho Mzamane, the former headmistress, had filed suit against Ms. Winfrey following a 2007 scandal in the school involving alleged sexual abuse. Continue below for the full story, including pictures and video!

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In October 2007, a female staffer at the South African school was accused of physically and sexually abusing students. Ms. Winfrey immediately flew to Johannesburg and took swift action to rectify the situation, given her personal experience with the problem as a child. Impressively, she gave each child a cell phone with her personal home number on it, and effectively fired Mzamane among others.

In the aftermath of the reshuffle, Mzamane had difficulty finding work and accused Ms. Winfrey of making falsified and defamatory statements against her and therefore inhibiting her further career. She filed the suit in October of 2008, reportedly due to the fact that Winfrey did not apologize for accusing her of covering up the scandal.

Mzamane’s lawyers stated that Winfrey’s actions and statements implied that the former headmistress was:

“untrustworthy, failed the students of the academy, did not care about the students at the academy, knew of alleged physical and sexual abuse at the academy and participated in a cover-up of the alleged abuse.”

As far as what Ms. Winfrey really did say, it’s reported that she said that she “lost confidence in (Mzamane’s) ability to run this school. And therefore, she will not be returning to this school.”

Now, as Oprah settles the suit against her, it is not apparent whether it is an admission of guilt or an act of convenience. We do know that a Pennsylvania court allowed the case to go to trial because there was:

“sufficient evidence in the record to satisfy the clear and convincing evidence standard for actual malice.”

I don’t think that Ms. Winfrey is a person who would intentionally defame someone our of malice, but perhaps she did so unintentionally out of her personal disgust with what happened at her school in Johannesburg. What’s important is that the otherwise highly praised school is back on it’s feet and now, everyone goes home happy.

As Oprah settles the defamation case, do you think she is doing this out of necessity or convenience? Let me know in the comments section!

Also, check out the pictures and video below!

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Photos: www.wenn.com Nichole Lechmanil, Dimitri Halkidis, Chris Corts, Nikki Nelson

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