JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – A former employee of Oprah Winfrey's school for disadvantaged girls in South Africa has been arrested on charges of abuse and sexual assault, police said Friday.
A police spokesman, Supt. Lungelo Dlamini, said the 27-year-old woman, a dormitory matron at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, was arrested on Thursday by the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offenses Unit.
"Several charges including alleged assault, indecent assault, criminal injury and soliciting underage girls to perform indecent acts are being investigated against her," Dlamini said.
At least seven victims have submitted statements, he said.
The woman was being held by police and was expected to appear in Sebokeng magistrate's court, south of Johannesburg, on Monday, he said.
Local media recently reported that Winfrey made a tearful apology to parents and pupils in a recent meeting at the school. A South Africa-based spokeswoman for Winfrey said the talk show host would have no comment before a press conference scheduled for Monday.
Winfrey opened her Leadership Academy for Girls outside Johannesburg to great fanfare Jan. 2, with celebrities like Tina Turner and Spike Lee in attendance, as well as former President Nelson Mandela.
The lavish $40 million school was the fulfillment of a promise she made to Mandela six years ago and aims to give 152 girls from deprived backgrounds a quality education in a country where schools are struggling to overcome the legacy of apartheid.