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Malka Leifer Faces 29 Charges of Child Sexual Abuse

The 56-year-old former Principal of a Jewish school in the southeast suburbs of Melbourne is facing trial for charges surrounding sexual abuse and rape of students during her time as the head.

Between 2003 and 2007, Leifer is alleged to have sexually abused and raped the students at Adass Israel School, Elsternwick. Currently, she faces 29 allegations that range from inappropriate touching to full-blown sexual assault.

It is reported that Leifer – who is a mother of eight children – “abus[ed] Melbourne sisters Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper when they were her students or young teachers”

How Long Will The Trial of Malka Leifer Last?

Malka Leifa is accused of sexually assaulting students and later, staff members during her time as principal of Adass Israel School which practices Judaism.

The trial could last up to 6 weeks and comprised a jury of 7 females and eight males. The court heard from Melbourne Sister, Ms Erlich on Wednesday, 8 February, where the opening address explained that the victim had no access to the influence of otherworldly cultures, according to her lawyer, Mr Lewis.

Leifer sat in court wearing mourning colours, a long black skirt, a black and gold jumper and wore her hair in a black wrap.

But the judge warned the jury to act and judge using their intellect, not their hearts. They were urged to put their feelings of sympathy or prejudice to the decision, whilst letting the facts tell the story.

Judge Famble said, “Mrs Leifer has pleaded not guilty to each of these charges and so it is for you and you alone to decide whether she is guilty or not guilty of these crimes.”

The Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Malka Leifa

Altogether, Leifer faces 29 charges:

  • 10 charges of rape
  • 1 charge of rape by compelled sexual penetration
  • 3 charges of sexual penetration of a 16/17-year-old child
  • 10 charges of indecent assault
  • 5 charges of indecent assault of a 16/17-year-old child

With very little interaction with the outside world, Ms Erlich had constricted access to modern media such as newspapers, radio, television and access to the internet. Even primary forms of media, such as books, were hand-vetted by parents at home.

Mr Lewis explained that “they were not taught anything about sex until engaged to be married.”

It could be argued that the naivety of the girls, being restricted from information about the outside world, particularly relationships and sexual activity, made them prime targets for predators such as Ms Leifer.

The attacks allegedly took place whilst a school camp took place between 2004 and 2006. One victim, Ms Meyer, alleges that she was abused first as a student, and later as when she returned to the school as a teacher.

During the initial attack, Ms Meyer alleges that she was raped and told that “this will help you for your wedding night.”

Due to Ms Meyer’s cultural upbringing, she didn’t know any better nor understand what was truly taking place before her. It was brought before the court that during a second alleged attack on Ms Meyer, she was told, ‘I’ll leave that for your husband’ as she began to fondle the victim before stopping.

How Long Has the Investigation of  Malka Leifa Been Going On?

Malka Leifer was first arrested in 2014, but it took until 2021 when Malka Leifer was finally extradited from Israel to face a Melbourne Court. The expedition took nearly a year, with Australian politicians seizing the matter with high-level Israeli politicians such as Benjamin Netanyahu.

Leifer had allegedly feigned mental illness and could not stand trial due to her condition. But a psychiatric panel in 2019 was unaware of the deadline to present its findings, making the process extend for longer.

She was first arrested in 2014 and had 62 prior court dates that had been changed. One victim, Dassi Erlich, tweeted, “We feel sick with anxiety. Three months of waiting for this day. Who didn’t get the memo? Was this intentional?”

According to The Times of Israel, Leifer was facing 74 charges of sex abuse.

If you or someone you know would like to talk to one of our historical sexual abuse specialists, for free and in confidence, about your legal options, please feel free to either complete the form below with the best way and the best time to contact you, or you can call us on 02 9283 5599.

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