Oprah to Go on Trial for Defaming Headmistress

Queen of talk expected to spend two weeks defending herself
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 17, 2010 7:11 AM CDT
Oprah Winfrey, left, and Woody Harrelson at the Governors Ball following the the 82nd Academy Awards Sunday, March 7, 2010, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

(Newser) – Oprah Winfrey is expected to spend two weeks defending herself at trial in a defamation case linked to the sex-abuse scandal at her girls school in South Africa. A federal judge this week refused to dismiss the suit filed by Winfrey's ex-headmistress, paving the way for a March 29 trial in Philadelphia. The billionaire talk show host, as a named defendant, must be in court and has rearranged her TV production schedule to do so, her lawyers said.

She also appears likely to be called as a witness. The judge found that Winfrey made both headmistress Nomvuyo Mzamane and the dormitory parents appear "culpable" by telling parents, "I'm going to find a new head of the academy for the school. Dorm parents are gone, (Mzamane) is gone." Winfrey's lawyers sought to dismiss the suit on grounds the remarks she made reflected only her opinions. But the judge said a listener could infer she based the comments on facts gleaned from the school's internal investigation.

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