A second scandal has rocked the South African girls school founded by Oprah Winfrey, leading to the suspensions of seven students, according to foreign media reports.
The students at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy School For Girls were suspended for "inappropriate behavior" toward other children, the British Telegraph newspaper reports.
"Several students were expelled last week for violating the Leadership Academy's Code of Conduct. We consider this to be a confidential school matter. Therefore, we will not confirm any personal information or disclose any details related to these expulsions," said Lisa Halliday, spokeswoman for the school.
Quoting reports from the Afrikaans on Sunday newspaper, a 15-year-old "preyed" on another student, then coerced others into lying to investigators about what happened.
Six other students were suspended after "being alleged to have touched each other intimately," or intimidating others into inappropriate behavior, the Telegraph reports.
"It is because they contravened the school's code of conduct," Halliday told the the Telegraph. This is the second incident of alleged sexual misconduct at the school, which opened in January 2007 after Winfrey contributed $40 million to the project.
In 2007, a dorm matron was charged with sexually abusing and assaulting six students and another supervisor.
Following the matron's arrest, a tearful Winfrey vowed to "clean house" at the boarding school for impoverished girls. She called the incident "one of the most devastating, if not the most devastating, experiences of my life."
"Indiscretions resulting in disciplinary action are common in schools all over the world. Unfortunately, because of my name these common infractions place the Academy in the media spotlight," Winfrey said in a statement Tuesday. " As each of the girls enrolled, she agreed to adhere to the school's Honor Code and Code of Conduct policy, which values personal integrity and ensures an environment of shared trust and community. I'm disappointed that several of our students chose to disregard the school's rules. It's disheartening when any student has to be suspended or expelled and it's a process that involves serious review and consideration. We will not tolerate a violation of school policy and dishonesty. We insist on maintaining a campus environment that commands mutual respect, fosters academic excellence and encourages learners to fulfill their best potential."