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  • Writer's pictureMarcia Pinskier

The Malka Leifer case - A synopsis

Allegations of sexual abuse by Adass Israel School Principal, Malka Leifer were reported by phone to the leadership of the community on February 29 2008. The response to this call included remarks to the effect that this had been heard of before, and ‘I think there may be some truth to these allegations’. A number of meetings took place in the following days, in the community. On the evening of March 5 a final meeting took place. Present were a number of senior members of the school board along with several other community members, including a barrister (deceased), and forensic psychologist. By then, they were aware of 9 individual complainants. Discussions were held with Malka Leifer over the phone. Judge Rush, in a civil case brought by one of the victims in the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2015 described how following that meeting, a number of the Adass members of the Board assisted Leifer to flee to Israel with a number of her children, in the early hours of March 6.

Those present failed to report these allegations to the police, prior to her departure. These events were described by Rush, as conduct amounting to 'disgraceful and contumelious behaviour'. He noted that Leifer's behaviour amounted to her 'being a serial sexual abuser'. These events enabled Leifer to avoid extradition to Australia and face the courts, for over a decade.

She was returned to the jurisdiction in 2021, her case completed and judgement delivered by Judge Gamble in August 2023. Within Judge Gamble's judgement, he notes that no police report was made in 2008, at the time of Leifer's initial departure. Indeed, no reports were made till mid-2011 when one of her victims first reported to the police, at which time the first police investigation began.

Leifer has now been found guilty of 18 charges of sexual abuse, including 6 offences of rape, six offences of indecent assault and three offences of sexual penetration of a 16 or 17 year old child under care, supervision or authority. As outlined in Judge Gamble's judgement, her victims were students at the school who came from abusive homes, were sexually ignorant and whom she had groomed to enable her to act as she did. She has received a sentence of 15 years, including a non-parole period of 11.5 years. Leifer has served 2069 days in Pre-sentence detention, (Australia and Israel) which will be noted as days served. Sentenced as a serious sexual offender on multiple charges, she will be registered under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 and have reporting obligations for life.

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