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Supreme Court orders Australian sex abuse suspect held in prison

Judge rules former principal of a Jewish girls’ school in Melbourne is untrustworthy and a flight risk

Former Australian principal Malka Leifer, who wanted in her home country for child sex abuse crimes is seen at the Jerusalem District Court on February 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former Australian principal Malka Leifer, who wanted in her home country for child sex abuse crimes is seen at the Jerusalem District Court on February 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Supreme Court has ruled that the former principal of a Jewish girls’ school in Melbourne, who fled to Israel amid allegations that she sexually abused students, will remain in prison until the end of extradition proceedings.

The former principal is viewed as untrustworthy and a flight risk, the court ruled Monday.

The decision came after the appeal of a Jerusalem District Court decision that would have released her to house arrest.

Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, the chief rabbi of Migdal HaEmek and head of Migdal Ohr educational institutions, had offered to host the suspect under house arrest, but withdrew the offer after pressure from donors to Migdal Ohr who saw the offer as support of the ultra-Orthodox woman’s attempt to avoid trial.

Last month, the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s court ruled that it would delay consideration of whether to extradite the suspect to Australia until a psychiatrist could review her case. Her name is gagged in Israel by court order because she has not been accused of committing a crime in the country.

Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, well-known for his philanthropic work, has been mentioned as a possible candidate but has not confirmed he wants the job (Photo credit: Uri Lenz/FLASH90)
Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman (Uri Lenz/FLASH90)

The defendant, who is wanted on 74 charges of child sexual abuse in Melbourne, was arrested last month following a police undercover operation to investigate her claim that she is mentally unfit to appear in court.

The former principal of the Adass Yisroel girls’ school, where the alleged crimes took place, has avoided court proceedings to seek her extradition to Australia by claiming mental incapacity, and has missed several court appearances by saying she was feeling unwell. The police operation was undertaken at the request of Interpol.

The suspect, who is in her 50s, reportedly has been living in the northern West Bank settlement of Emmanuel, where she was arrested. She fled Australia in 2008, allegedly with the help of school officials, shortly before she was charged.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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