London (ANI): An ex matron at Oprah Winfrey's school for underprivileged kids in South Africa has pleaded not guilty to charges of child abuse.
Virginia Mokgobo was held last year after allegations of indecent assault and soliciting under-age girls to perform indecent acts at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy near Johannesburg.
According to the police, six teenage students and a fellow dormitory matron at the academy were abused a number of times over a four-month period, reports the Telegraph. The students are to give evidence in private, as they are 'very scared and very, very emotional,' according to prosecutor Etienne Venter.
Appearing at Sebokeng magistrate court on July 29, Mokgobo pleaded not guilty to each of the 14 charges levelled against her. The allegations include attempting to kiss and grope a 13-year-old student, touching intimate body parts of the girls through their clothing and accusing one student of being a prostitute. She is also charged with pushing a 13-year-old girl against a wall and pushing her thumb against her windpipe, as well as assaulting her fellow dormitory matron Promise Ngwedi.
If Mokgobo is found guilty of indecent acts, she will be sentenced to a minimum of ten years in jail. Winfrey, who herself was a victim of abuse as a child, said that she was devastated after the charges were formally laid last year.
"I was devastated and really shaken to my core when I first heard this news," she said. "I spent about a half hour crying. This has been one of the most devastating, if not the most devastating experience of my life," she added.