Oprah Winfrey has settled a defamation lawsuit filed against her by the former head of her all-girls school in South Africa.
The two women “met woman-to-woman without their lawyers and are happy that they could resolve this dispute peacefully to their mutual satisfaction,” lawyers for Nomvuyo Mzamane, the accuser, and Winfrey said in a statement released by Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.
In the suit, Mzamane alleged that Winfrey defamed her when Winfrey made certain remarks following a 2007 sex-abuse scandal at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Mzamane sought $250,000 plus damages in the suit.
According to the suit, there were several comments which drew the ire of Mzamane. At the premiere of the movie “The Great Debaters” in December 2007, Winfrey spoke candidly with the media about the incident at the school, and hinted that Mzamane’s oversight of the school might be to blame.
“I think that all crisis is there to teach you about your life,” Winfrey said, according to People magazine. “You have to be far more careful in choosing people to stand in the gap for you. You have to stay on it.”
Winfrey’s defense for her statements was that she was exercising her right to free speech and she was just voicing her opinion about the incident.
However, Mzamane’s lawyers claimed that, because of Winfrey’s visibility and popularity, she could easily sway the public to believe that her statements were fact rather than allegations.
The academy, located in Meyerton, South Africa, opened its doors to 150 poverty-stricken girls in January 2007. According to NewJerseyNewsroom.com, the school now serves over 330 girls.