Denis Farrell/AP

A former matron is due in court Monday to face charges of physical and sexual abuse

November 02, 2007 07:55 AM

Police in South Africa have arrested a former employee at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy on charges of physical and sexual abuse, a police spokesman tells CNN.

Lungelo Dlamini, the police superintendent in Johannesburg, says that on Monday the former school matron, whose name has not been disclosed, is due in Sebokeng Magistrate Court, which is responsible for cases involving family violence, child protection and sexual offenses.

The suspect stands accused of physical abuse against girls at the school, as well as soliciting them for indecent acts, says the CNN report.

The South African newspaper The Cape Argus this week quoted girls at the school as saying the dorm matron allegedly threw a student against a wall after first grabbing her by the throat. The youngsters further alleged that the matron swore, screamed at and assaulted other students.

As Access Hollywood reported on Friday’s Today show, upon learning of the charges, Winfrey suspended the school’s principal with pay and then flew to South Africa with her own team of investigators – who then presented their findings to the South African police. (See Today‘s video.)

The report also underscored the support Winfrey has from parents in the area, who applauded the quick action she took and the loyalty and concern she has shown the school and its students.

The Academy opened in January to provide quality education to underprivileged girls.

In addition to her bringing investigators into the matter, Winfrey, 53, is also buying cell phones for every student in the school, so that the pupils may call her directly whenever is necessary, said the NBC report.

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