Australian court finds Malka Leifer guilty of rape at ultra-orthodox school

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Australian court finds Malka Leifer guilty of rape at ultra-orthodox school

Leifer, who was found guilty of 18 charges, assaulted two sisters during her time as principal at the Adass Israel school in Melbourne. 

Malka Leifer entering a courtroom (October 2019)
Malka Leifer entering a courtroom (October 2019)

Malka Leifer, the former principal of an ultra-orthodox school in Australia, was found guilty of sexually assaulting two of her students. 

The jury found Leifer, 56, guilty of 18 charges, including rape, against two sisters, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper.

The assaults took place between 2003 and 2007. Leifer, was however cleared of nine other charges, some of which were related to the a third sister, Nicole Meyer.

Leifer, who had pleaded not guilty to all 27 charges, assaulted Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper during her time as principal at the Adass Israel school in Melbourne.

The ultra-orthodox principal fled to Israel in 2008 after allegations were first raised.

Israeli police rearrested Leifer after private investigators filmed her going about her daily life in the West Bank settlement of Emmanuel where she was living.

Leifer was formally charged in 2014, but her Israeli lawyers sought unsuccessfully to argue that she was mentally unfit to stand trial in Australia.

It took years for campaigners to persuade Australian authorities to apply to extradite Malta Leifer from Israel, but eventually she was returned in January 2021.

Israel’s High Court of Justice later found that Leifer had been feigning mental illness to avoid extradition and ordered her on a plane.

Ha’aretz quoted the Magen organisation, which supported Leifer’s victims, saying: “Finally, after years of proceedings, the Australian courts have found Malka Leifer guilty. This is an auspicious day for all victims of sexual abuse, to see that even when the process is lengthy and delayed and the perpetrator tries to escape justice, in the end there is hope that their abuser will finally pay a price.”

“We are so proud of the sisters who found the strength to continue fighting throughout this protracted process, even when it looked hopeless, and proved to everyone that justice is possible,” the organisation added.

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