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Oprah Winfrey wants a court to dismiss or order arbitration in a defamation lawsuit filed by the ex-headmistress of her girls school in South Africa.

Nomvuyo Mzamane sued over remarks the media mogul made following sex-abuse complaints at the $40 million Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, near Johannesburg. A dorm matron who worked under Mzamane was charged with abusing six students last year.

According to the lawsuit, filed last month in Philadelphia, Winfrey falsely implied that Mzamane wasn't trustworthy through comments about the need to clean house and remarks such as, "I thought she cared about the girls of South Africa."

Her lawsuit seeks more than $250,000 on five defamation and related counts from Winfrey and her production companies.

Winfrey denies making any false or defamatory statements and argues that the federal suit should not proceed in Pennsylvania.

"Read in context, these statements suggest no more than they actually say — that the abuse incident was used as an opportunity to bring new personnel into the school — and they cannot be twisted into anything defamatory," her lawyers said in a response filed Friday.

Mzamane, a native of Lesotho, previously held a leadership post at the Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia and returned to the area after her contract wasn't renewed at Winfrey's school. Mzamane says she has been unable to find work because of Winfrey's comments.


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