A school principal facing extradition from Israel to Australia over allegations she molested schoolchildren has been accused of continuing to sexually assault children while in Israel.
Although Malka Leifer has not been formally accused of a sex crime in Israel, one man claims she molested his daughter and cautions that she has been privately tutoring other children in the ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlement of Emmanuel, where she has been living.
In a story published by the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday, the father, identified only as Daniel, further claimed that Leifer’s husband had admitted to him that she “likes to touch” because she is “loving,” but that even he is wary of leaving her alone with children.
Leifer, an Israeli citizen, left Australia for Israel in 2008 shortly after molestation accusations against her surfaced, skipped several extradition hearings in Israel because she had committed herself into psychiatric institutions for short periods coinciding with the court dates. She is wanted for questioning in Australia in connection with 74 instances of molestation, including rape, of several teenage girls at the Adass school in Melbourne. Many of the alleged crimes were committed during private tutoring sessions with the girls.
Australian authorities first filed a request for her extradition in 2014. Leifer, was arrested in the country at the time but later released to house arrest.
Several years after coming to Israel and living in Bnei Brak she moved with her husband and 10 children to the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Emmanuel in the northern West Bank.
Daniel, an Emmanuel resident, said that at the time, residents of the community knew nothing of Leifer’s past or the accusations against her.
Shortly after arriving in the settlement, the former principal offered to tutor Daniel’s daughter Sarah in religious studies. he said. The report did not say how old the girl was at the time.
Sarah later told her father that Leifer had pulled at her clothes, pulling down her skirt and “started to touch” her.
“Her childhood was over from that moment,” he said.
Concerned over what his daughter had told him, Daniel said he hired a private investigator to watch the woman as she visited other children in their homes and lured “troubled, disadvantaged kids” into her own home by offering them food and free tutoring.
Widespread deprivation in the community made the offer of something to eat effective bait, Daniel noted.
“There is a lot of poverty, with families struggling to buy food,” he said.
On one occasion Daniel claims he saw Leifer “grab this young-looking blonde girl, pushing her, grabbing her boobs and ass. She was all over her, crazy-like.”
Daniel claimed that he spoke to Leifer’s husband about the alleged assaults.
“I asked him about his ‘handsy’ wife,” he said of her husband. “He said, ‘She likes to touch but that’s all she does, because she’s a loving person… but we did try not to leave her alone with kids.’”
Despite his complaints, Leifer would continue to send her son to their home with instructions to bring Daniel’s daughter for more sessions, the father said.
His daughter has since moved to a boarding school in the nearby town of Petah Tikva, he said.
Daniel began researching the former principal, who had been living in Israel with no restrictions on her freedom, and discovered her past and the accusations in Australia. He blasted Emmanuel community leaders for allowing the woman to live freely among residents, accusing them of not doing enough to protect children from.
“She carried on molesting children here after she was freed!” he told the newspaper. “They let her return here, to my home. To my town!”
The report described a tightly closed community living under the rule of ultra-Orthodox leaders who prefer to suppress reports of child abuse rather than involve authorities and deal with the unwanted attention.
“The issue became well known here in Emmanuel,” one resident was quoted as saying, “but it was comfortable for [her] to manage her life here because it’s a small town where nobody looks for trouble.”
Local residents said that community leaders were well aware of Leifer’s past but had failed to deal with the matter.
“They definitely knew she did what she’s been accused of, that’s why they told her not to teach young girls, and at the beginning, she obeyed those demands, things started to blow up after she volunteered to teach [Daniel’s daughter],” one source was quoted as saying.
The woman’s defense lawyer Yehuda Fried declined to comment on the accusations, saying that unless charges were filed he had no response to give, according to the report.
Daniel claimed that Leifer’s story is just a part of a much broader problem in the community that is being hushed up by leaders.
“It’s Sodom and Gomorrah in Emmanuel,” he said. “Child abuse, pedophilia… it’s rampant.”
The father vowed to campaign until the community addressed the issue.
“The Catholics went through the exposé of such crimes,” he said. “Now it’s our turn to address the big problem.”