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Malka Leifer’s father-in-law, a Jerusalem rabbi, suspected of child sex assault

Baruch Leifer, 70, was arrested last month but his name barred from publication; suspected of molesting a family member when she was 12; more accusations said too old to prosecute

Illustrative: A policeman holds handcuffs. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Illustrative: A policeman holds handcuffs. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Baruch Leifer was named Monday as the Jerusalem rabbi who was arrested last month on suspicion of molesting children several years ago.

A gag order barring publication of Leifer’s name was lifted Monday at the request of the Kan public broadcaster.

Leifer’s daughter-in-law Malka Leifer is currently awaiting trial in Australia on suspicion of dozens of incidents of molesting students when she was a school principal in Melbourne.

Baruch Leifer, a senior rabbi in the Khust Hasidic dynasty, is suspected of multiple indecent acts against a family member when she was 12 years old, according to Kan.

Additional complaints have been lodged against him, but in those, the alleged acts occurred too long ago to be prosecuted, the report said.

An investigation began following recent complaints received at the Beit Shemesh police station.

Police said last month — without naming Leifer — that the suspect committed indecent acts against minors in separate cases several years ago.

Malka Leifer, a teacher wanted in Australia for child sex abuse, seen on a screen via a video link during a court hearing at the Jerusalem District Court on July 20, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In September, a Melbourne court ruled that Malka Leifer must stand trial on 70 charges of child sex abuse at a Jewish ultra-Orthodox school where she worked.

Malka Leifer, an Israeli citizen who was extradited to Australia in January 2021, denies dozens of charges, including rape, indecent assault and child sexual abuse. The crimes allegedly took place between 2004 and 2008.

Leifer, 55, had fled Australia for Israel after the allegations against her surfaced in 2008, moving with her family to the Emmanuel settlement in the West Bank. Australian authorities pressed charges in 2012 and requested her extradition two years later.

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community has been shaken by sexual abuse allegations against several leading figures.

In December last year, prominent children’s author and rabbi Chaim Walder died by suicide after the Haaretz newspaper published a story accusing him of sexually assaulting nearly two dozen people, including children — allegations he had denied.

The Walder story has been hailed as a potential turning point in the approach to sexual abuse cases within the very insular community.

Then in January, news broke that Dudi Shwamenfeld, a popular Haredi radio host, was accused by multiple women of sexual abuse, including one who said she was 16 when the abuse began.

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