Prosecution Rests in Oprah School Scandal Trial

Matron accused of assaulting students, supervisor

Prosecutors have finished presenting witnesses against a former dormitory supervisor accused of abusing students at Oprah Winfrey's school for poor South African girls.

Wednesday's testimony from the last prosecution witnesses wrapped up the first stage of the trial.

Proceedings began in July 2008 with Tiny Virginia Makopo pleading innocent to kissing and fondling six teenagers and a fellow supervisor.

The State alleges Makopo indecently assaulted the girls, aged 13 and 14, by kissing them with an open mouth, touching their breasts, forcing them to touch her breasts, and creeping into their beds and telling them to be lesbians. She is accused of assaulting a 13-year-old girl by slapping her, pulling her hair, forcing her to sit on a bare floor for 15 minutes and rubbing custard into her hair. One of the girls was allegedly throttled and told she was so stupid she did not deserve to be at the school, a South African newspaper reported.

Makopo's lawyers are expected to start their defense next Monday.

Much of the evidence so far has come from students who testified behind closed doors because of their age.

The scandal erupted at Winfrey's $40 million school outside Johannesburg after it opened in 2007 amid great fanfare.

A verdict in the case could be months away.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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