Malka Leifer guilty of school abuse charges

Former school head guilty of sexual abuse charges

Former ultra-Orthodox Jewish principal Malka Leifer has been found guilty of the indecent assault and rape of a former student.

Late on Monday afternoon, jurors revealed they had found Leifer guilty of charges of sexual abuse against Dassi Erlich, after handing down five not guilty verdicts in respect of charges against Ms Erlich’s sister Nicole Meyer.

The 56-year-old mother of eight, has stood trial in the Victorian County Court.

She’s accused of sexually abusing Melbourne sisters Ms Meyer, Ms Erlich and a third sister, Elly Sapper, at the Adass Israel School in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs between 2003 and 2007.

Leifer pleaded not guilty to 27 charges, including 10 each of rape and indecent assault.

The jury is continuing to hand down its verdicts.

Leifer was appointed Menaheles, or principal, of the girls’ school after arriving in Melbourne in 2001. She was stood down when allegations were raised in 2008.

She fled to Israel days later and when charged in 2014 began a years-long battle against extradition.

The sisters told the jury of six women and six men they were abused by Leifer on school camps, during private lessons at the school and at Leifer’s home.

Prosecutor Justin Lewis argued Leifer had a tendency to have a sexual interest in girls when they were teenage students at the school and when those same girls were student teachers.

Mr Lewis said the tendency was to engage in sexual activities with them and to take advantage of their vulnerability, ignorance in sexual maters and her position of authority in order to do so.

Her barrister, Ian Hill KC, argued the lengthy delay between the alleged offending and the trial, which began in February, was a disadvantage to the defence and to jurors.

He attacked the credibility of the sisters, including accusing one of telling “blatant lies” in her evidence.

“Truth and reliability were lost in false accounts,” he said.

“Perhaps even at times hardened into false imaginations and false memories of false realities.”


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