Image: Former Oprah Winfrey school matron Tiny Virginia Makopo
Gianluigi Guercia  /  AFP - Getty Images
Tiny Virginia Makopo, a former dormitory matron at Oprah Winfrey's school in South Africa, is shown in court in this file photo from April 25, 2008. She is accused of indecently assaulting minors, verbally abusing and soliciting them to perform indecent act.
updated 7/29/2008 6:49:40 AM ET 2008-07-29T10:49:40

A former dormitory matron at Oprah Winfrey's school for poor South African girls has pleaded innocent to charges that she indecently assaulted and abused six teenagers at the academy.

Tiny Virginia Makopo, 28, looked nervous and sullen at the start of her trial Tuesday. It is expected to last all week.

The opening session was public, but the judge has granted the prosecution's request for the rest of the trial to be held in private while the teenagers testify through closed-circuit TV to save them the trauma of confronting their alleged attacker in court.

Prosecutor Etienne Venter described the girls as "very scared and very, very emotional."

Winfrey was a victim of child abuse and has promised an overhaul at the school.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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