Oprah Winfrey begged for forgiveness with tears in her eyes as she spoke to parents of students at her all-girls school in South Africa on Sunday.
The talk show queen addressed the parents during the emergency meeting, which was called after allegations of abuse surfaced at the school, which opened in January.
“I’ve disappointed you. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” Oprah told the families in Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg, the South African news site reported.
Oprah had visited the school twice in the past few weeks, after allegations that one of the employees fondled a female student and that other students had been physically abused.
News24.com reported that Oprah, who has spoken publicly about suffering abuse as a child, gave the students her personal phone number, her e-mail address and her mailing address so they could contact her at any time.
Prior to the alleged fondling incident, Oprah had placed the school’s principal, Dr. Mzimane, and at least one other employee on leave two weeks ago.
“I trusted her. When I appointed her, I thought she was passionate about the children of Africa,” an emotional Oprah said last week of Mzimane. “But I’ve been disappointed.”
According to local news reports, the father of one of the girls told Oprah the parents aren’t blaming her for the problems.
“It’s not your fault. We don’t blame you,” the father reportedly told her. “You trusted them. You have more passion for the school and its existence than anyone else in this country, including us parents.”
Oprah opened the doors to The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in January to provide a high level of education to underprivileged girls.