Connect to share and comment

Top 10 sex scandals of 2009

What do Tiger Woods, Silvio Berlusconi and Oprah Winfrey all have in common?

7. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy

In early March, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa suspended seven girls — that's right — for sexual misconduct and the harassment of other pupils. But wait: The suspensions were the second sex controversy to plague the school, which opened in early 2007. The Afrikaans on Sunday newspaper wrote that one 15-year-old girl "preyed" on a schoolmate and coerced others into lying to officials investigating the alleged incidents, while six other pupils were excluded from the $46 million girls-only boarding school after being alleged to have touched each other intimately, or "intimidating others" into doing so. The prior scandal came just 10 months after the academy opened, when dorm matron Virginia Tiny Makgobo was arrested for "indecent assault and soliciting under-age girls to perform indecent acts." Here's Oprah's take:

8. Mark Sanford

At least Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina got a little creative, sending the media (and possibly his own aides) on a wild goose chase after going AWOL for seven days in June. For two days after reporters started asking questions, Sanford's office said he had gone hiking on the Appalachian Trial. First lady Jenny Sanford told The Associated Press at the time that she did not know where her husband had gone for the Father's Day weekend. When he finally re-emerged, Sanford tearfully admitted that he had secretly flown to Argentina to visit a woman with whom he'd been having an affair — a "dear, dear friend" for about eight years with whom he'd only recently become "romantic." After apologizing to his wife and four sons, he issued a statement promising to reimburse the state for an economic-development trip he took to Argentina last year that included time spent with his mistress (the trip cost $8,000). The State Commerce Department might have forgiven him, but evidently his wife never did — in early December, Jenny Sanford filed for divorce. 

9. Governor N.D. Tiwar

A senior Congress leader and governor of a southern Indian state resigned in late December after a local television channel aired a video of the 86-year-old allegedly in bed with three young women. Governor N.D. Tiwari, a top representative of India's president in Andhra Pradesh state, said the footage was doctored, but an embarrassed Congress party — facing protests over statehood demands — asked the governor to resign. The three-and-half minute footage was the most watched video on YouTube over Christmas weekend in India and newspapers splashed front page stories on the sex scandal, which has sparked online debates about the conduct of politicians in India.

10. Eliot Spitzer (a.k.a. Client 9)

OK, it's so 2008, but proving that even sex scandals can have happy endings, consider developments in the case of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned March 17, 2008, in the wake of the exposure of his involvement in a high-priced prostitution ring. Ashley Dupree, the $5,500-a-night hooker with whom Spitzer — sock and all — rendezvous'd in D.C. now has her own advice column and is making something of a name for herself commenting on other sex scandals. Spitzer's recovery, meantime, has been nothing short of miraculous. The former state attorney general, who won kudos as the "Sheriff of Wall Street," is reportedly considering a run for state comptroller in 2010. The speculation has ramped up after a string of public appearances by Spitzer focusing on the collapse of the economy and President Barack Obama's stimulus plans. Otherwise, Spitzer has been biding his time writing op-eds for such venerable mastheads as the New York Times and Washington Post.