Oprah shares how false child porn rumor triggered painful memories

The talk show icon wrote about how she found out about the allegations and the raw childhood memories it triggered in her about her greatest fear.

Oprah Winfrey speaks during Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images)

Back in March Oprah Winfrey was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter for a reason that was less than ideal. Now the media mogul is opening up about her she felt when she discovered it had been falsely reported that she was arrested for being involved in a sex trafficking and child pornography ring.

Rumors began circling all over social media that Winfrey was involved in sex trafficking and child porn and had quietly been arrested at her Florida home in March. The wild allegations began shortly after actor Tom Hanks came forward to reveal his COVID-19 diagnosis. Those circulating the story claimed that Hanks wasn’t ill and had only pretended that he and his wife so that authorities wouldn’t arrest him for being implicated in the very same-sex ring that Winfrey was also allegedly part of.

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Oprah Winfrey (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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According to CNN, the story was started by QAnon a far-right online group called that has a history of posting sensational conspiracy theories on social media.

When Winfrey first got wind of the allegations, she responded by writing, “Just got a phone call that my name is trending. And being trolled for some awful FAKE thing. It’s NOT TRUE. Haven’t been raided, or arrested. Just sanitizing and self distancing with the rest of the world. Stay safe everybody.”

An hour later, Winfrey’s longtime friend and collaborator Ava DuVernay also chimed in at the time to defend her, tweeting, “Trolls + bots began this disgusting rumor. Mean-spirited minds kept it going. #Oprah has worked for decades on behalf of others. Given hundreds of millions to individuals + causes in need. Shared her own abuse as a child to help folks heal. Shame on all who participated in this.”

READ MORE: Oprah Winfrey denies rumors that she was arrested for sex trafficking

Oprah’s greatest fear

In a new Oprah Magazine article published on Wednesday, the talk show icon gives readers a more in-depth account of how she found out about the allegations and the raw childhood memories it triggered in her about her greatest fear.

“Imagine sitting cozily in bed, propped up on your favorite pillows, 240 pages into a riveting family saga—when you get a phone call telling you you’re trending on Twitter, and you discover it’s a bogus and vile story that you were arrested and your home was raided for sex trafficking and child pornography,” she wrote. “I can’t and don’t want to imagine an uglier accusation.”

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“At first I was confused. Yes, that’s my name: ‘Oprah.’ But I’m in my bed in my pj’s and socks, and somehow #OprahArrested is a thing,” she added. “My worst fear realized. Being slandered, accused of a crime I didn’t commit.”

“I always feared what the next false headline would be,” Winfrey revealed. “Why? Because I knew for sure that while a lot of people dismissed the stories, a lot of other people believed them … My fear of being punished for something I didn’t do stems from growing up being whupped for minor infraction.”

“I grew up trying to please everyone to avoid the whipping. It was hardwired in my head,” she continued. “And yet when a false rumor — or a vile, disgusting attack — is contrived and amplified through social media, I’m still hit with the same anxiety.”

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