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Prosecutors urge guilty verdict in Leifer abuse trial

Prosecutor Justin Lewis (right) says Malka Leifer manipulated the young women's emotions while abusing them.

Prosecutor Justin Lewis (right) says Malka Leifer manipulated the young women's emotions while abusing them. Photo: AAP

Using pretend love and concern, former ultra-Orthodox Jewish principal Malka Leifer groomed and sexually abused three young students for her own gratification, jurors have been told.

Leifer, 56, is facing 27 charges over the alleged abuse of Melbourne sisters Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper when she was principal of the Adass Israel School in the city’s southeast suburbs between 2003 and 2007.

Leifer, a mother of eight, has pleaded not guilty and is standing trial in the Victorian County Court.

Prosecutor Justin Lewis closed the Crown case on Thursday after a month of evidence.

“These three sisters had a miserable home life and as far as the accused was concerned, they were ripe for the picking,” he said.

“There’s no mystery in any of them speaking highly of her – they were getting love and attention from one of the most revered and respected people they knew.”

He said even if the young women didn’t understand the sexual nature of what was being done to them, because of their highly sheltered upbringing, they understood what they thought was her love and that’s why it went on for so long before a complaint was made.

Leifer had manipulated the young women’s emotions while she abused them for her own sexual gratification, Mr Lewis said.

“You have more than enough evidence to convict the accused on the charges before you … and I ask you to do so,” he said.

He told jurors to consider the context in which the complaints were made by each of the three women.

In each alleged incident Leifer started with lesser acts, was able to observe the reaction of the women and increased the seriousness of the acts, he said.

In relation to offending against Ms Erlich, he said Leifer’s confidence in getting away with what she was doing would increase.

Ms Sapper first outlined allegations of abuse against Leifer to a counsellor in March 2008, when she said Leifer didn’t listen when she asked her to stop.

“She even asked me if I was enjoying it and when I said ‘no I don’t like it’ she said I would never be able to give a man pleasure,” she said.

Lefier’s barrister Ian Hill KC has accused Ms Sapper of lying in her evidence and told jurors he would challenge her credibility when his closing address continues later on Thursday.

He said Ms Sapper gave inconsistent evidence about the location of alleged abuse, made speeches instead of answering questions, and had taken opportunities to rope Leifer into answers where questions had nothing to do with his client.

“Did she get caught out telling blatant lies? The answer is yes,” he said.

The trial is continuing.

– AAP

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