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Oprah Chillaxin' Amid Allegations

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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WELL-RESTED Oprah(Photo: Getty Images)

Billionaire talk-show host Oprah Winfrey appeared genuinely distraught yesterday when discussing abuse at her $40 million school for South African girls. But if the October editor's letter of her eponymous magazine, O, is any indicator, the timing of the assaults lined up perfectly with Winfrey's month-long, pan-Pacific vacation—the one she describes as, "Dedicated to myself, for myself ... To regroup. Rejuvenate. Restore my soul."

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On Monday, the publicly big-hearted ladymogul said she wept for an hour and a half after finding out that one of the dorm matrons at her Leadership Academy for Girls outside of Johannesburg had been charged with 13 counts of indecent assault and criminal injury. According to the school superintendent, the alleged transgressions by the matron, Tiny Virginia Makopo, span a four-month period and include at least three "serious" cases of indecent assault. In one incident, she's accused of grabbing a student by the throat and throwing her against a wall—the alleged abuse led to the student running away from the academy. (Makopo is expected to plead "not guilty" when she appears in court on Dec. 13.)

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