Ex-Orthodox teacher Leifer’s trial back in open court

The jury in the trial of Malka Leifer has resumed deliberations after asking about a deadlock.

The jury in the trial of Malka Leifer has resumed deliberations after asking about a deadlock. Photo: AAP

After weeks of closed-door hearings court is expected to open again in the trial of former ultra-Orthodox Jewish school principal Malka Leifer, who is accused of raping three former students.

The 56-year-old Israeli woman is facing 29 charges over the alleged sexual abuse of Melbourne sisters Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper when she was head of religion and principal of the Adass Israel School in the city’s eastern suburbs.

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

The hearing moved behind closed doors for two weeks to allow the three women to give evidence against Leifer.

The case has been held in closed court since opening statements made by prosecutor Justin Lewis and Leifer’s defence barrister Ian Hill KC.

Leifer is accused of raping all three women, now in their 30s. Other charges include indecent assault and sexual penetration of a child aged 16 or 17 who was under her care or supervision.

She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Mr Lewis argued Leifer had a tendency to act in the way alleged.

“It is said she has 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 … to take advantage of their vulnerability, their ignorance in sexual matters and her position in the school,” he said.

It’s alleged after raping Ms Meyer, shortly before her wedding, Leifer told her “this will help you for your wedding night”.

She’s also accused of sexually abusing Ms Meyer and Ms Erlich when the trio shared a room on a school camp.

She told the youngest sister, Ms Sapper, that the abuse was “good for you”, Mr Lewis alleged.

Mr Hill said said the defence position was that the allegations are “erroneous, imagined and/or fabricated”.

“Mrs Leifer denies all of the criminal conduct alleged by each of the complainants,” he said.

“You will hear that in 2008 she said to a fellow teacher … that she had done nothing wrong.”

He said jurors were expected to hear there was a positive, glowing and appropriate relationship between Leifer and the sisters.


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