The fallout from the controversy over Oprah’s South African school continues, as the talk show host will have to appear in a Philadelphia court to defend herself against defamation allegations.
Though Oprah requested that the charges to be dismissed, a district court judge in Pennsylvania ruled yesterday that the issue should go to trial.
Nomvuyo Mzamane, the former headmistress of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy of Girls, is suing Winfrey for defamation, false light and emotional distress. Winfrey had admonished Mzamane in the press following allegations of sexual abuse at the school in 2007.
The Hollywood Reporter: Winfrey was intimately involved with the school and met with Mzamane, who was soon put on administrative leave pending an investigation. At the time, Winfrey released a public statement saying that “(n)othing is more serious or devastating to me than an allegation of misconduct by an adult against any girl at the academy. I will do everything in my power to ensure their safety and well-being.”
Later, Oprah said she had “lost confidence in (Mzamane’s) ability to run this school. And therefore, she will not be returning to this school.”
Oprah’s lawyer argued that her statements were merely utterances of opinion, but the ruling contends that the “[p]laintiff has pointed to sufficient evidence of record demonstrating that Winfrey acted with actual malice.”
NY Post: This is second time the talk show host has landed in court for criticising someone publicly. An Amarillo, Texas-based beef processor sued her in 1998 over statements she made during an episode of “Oprah” on mad-cow disease two years earlier.
Don’t worry — the show will go on. Her production schedule has been amended to make room for a trial appearance.
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