The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a woman wanted in Australia on 74 charges of sex abuse, including rape, while teaching in a Jewish school, to be kept in police custody in a medical facility while it considers moving her to house arrest.
Australia wants the woman, whose name is gagged in Israel by court order because she has not been accused of committing a crime in the country, to be extradited for allegedly sexually abusing children in a local school, Adass Israel.
Israel’s state prosecution says she is feigning mental illness to avoid extradition. Last week, a court said that it would delay consideration of whether to extradite her until a psychiatrist can review her case.
The woman’s lawyer, Yehuda Fried, told the court Thursday his client was not a flight risk.
He said: “She has nowhere to go. She is wanted worldwide.”
The prosecution had appealed after a lower court decision that would have seen the woman freed from police custody on Friday and sent to house arrest with a prominent rabbi who vouched for her.
Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, well-known among mainstream Israelis for his philanthropic work, served as a character witness for the defendant in the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday, saying that “for her to be in custody is a humiliation.” He offered to host her in house arrest at his home, adding that if she left the house “for even a second, we will take her straight to the police immediately,” according to the Brisbane Times.
The initial court decision to release the woman prompted harsh criticism from an activist who wants to see her extradited to Australia and held to account.
The woman “has been released on bail based on some random rabbi’s testimony that he will supervise her,” Dassi Erlich, who has accused the teacher of abusing her when she was a pupil, charged on Facebook. “If Rabbi Grossman can have a voice, someone who is not a part of this case at all, where is our voice?!”
Grossman received the Israel Prize in 2004 and the Presidential Medal of Distinction in 2013 for having rehabilitated tens of thousands of disadvantaged children through his educational work, which began in 1972. He was twice offered the position of chief rabbi of Israel, but declined in order to focus on his position as head of the Migdal Haemek yeshiva.
Fried said last week that the court ruled the woman should be dealt with “in the realm of mental illness.” Fried said that likely meant a years-long process before her extradition can be reconsidered.
But Israel’s Court Administration later said that the court will convene again on March 28 after a psychiatric evaluation has been carried out, indicating an extradition decision could be taken sooner.
She was arrested following an undercover investigation at Interpol’s request and is suspected of obstructing Israeli court proceedings by attempting to hide evidence.
A court previously stopped extradition proceedings after determining she was not fit to stand trial.