Ex-girls’ school head to be extradited to Australia for sex abuse

Malka Leifer wanted in Melbourne for dozens of alleged assaults when she was head of ultra-Orthodox school

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

The Adass Israel School in Melbourne, Australia (screen capture: Google Maps)
The Adass Israel School in Melbourne, Australia (screen capture: Google Maps)

A former Australian school principal is to be extradited from Israel to face charges alleged sex abuse crimes committed against pupils at an ultra-Orthodox girls school in Melbourne after being arrested on Sunday evening.

Malka Leifer, who was principal of the Adass Israel School in Elsternwick, Melbourne, bolted from Australia in 2008, two days after she was sacked by the school board amid allegations surrounding her relationship with some of the pupils, The Age reported on Monday.

The Australian attorney-general said Leifer had been arrested in Israel after a request for extradition was filed in the Jerusalem District Court.

“Ms Leifer is wanted to face prosecution in Victoria for alleged sexual assault offenses,” a spokesperson said.

According to Ynet, an unnamed woman was arrested on Sunday night in the settlement of Emanuel. The report said the woman in question was suspected of 74 incidents of molesting three sisters who were pupils in the school and that one of the girls later attempted suicide.

Earlier media reports from 2008 suggest other teenage students and girls attending summer camps may also have been victims.

The Age said that a former student of the school is suing Leifer and the Adass school for breach of duty and intends to claim damages including pain, suffering, and economic loss.

Manny Waks, the CEO of Tzedek, a Jewish child sexual abuse victim advocacy group, said that the extradition was an important development toward dealing with abuse cases in the Jewish community.

“It should be seen in the greater context of the ongoing child sexual abuse scandal that has been plaguing the Australian Jewish community in recent years where we have seen numerous convictions in both Melbourne and Sydney,” Waks said. “This is further evidence that the tide is turning within our community; many victims are no longer willing to remain silent, and neither is the community.

“Their courage should not be understated – as we have recently seen, it has not been easy for victims within our community to disclose their abuse and to pursue justice,” he said.

The extradition comes after two other cases of child abuse in Melbourne Jewish schools that came to light in recent years.

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