Former Israeli-Australian Principal Faces Juvenile Sexual Abuse Trial | Courts news
Melbourne court rules there is enough evidence to send Malka Leifer to trial on October 21.
An Australian court has ordered a former principal to stand trial on several charges of child sexual abuse at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school where she worked.
Thursday’s decision came after Malka Leifer, a dual Israeli-Australian citizen, was extradited to Australia in January. She has denied dozens of charges, including rape, indecent assault and child sexual abuse.
The crimes allegedly took place between 2004 and 2008, when she was a professor of religious studies and principal of the Adass Israel School in Melbourne.
“Malka Leifer was sentenced today to stand trial in county court,” a court spokeswoman said after Melbourne magistrate ruled there was enough evidence to send her to trial , which is due to open on October 21.
“She pleaded not guilty.
Leifer initially faced 74 charges in the hearing, which was held remotely by video link, but four of them were dropped Thursday because they allegedly took place in Israel, the national broadcaster reported Australian ABC.
His alleged victims are three sisters – Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper – who have identified themselves publicly to push Leifer to face charges.
“I am delighted that we have finally reached this important milestone in the pursuit of justice by the three brave sisters,” said Manny Waks, head of an Israel-based organization fighting child abuse in the Jewish community, Voice Against Child Sexual Abuse.
In a statement, Waks said his thoughts were with the three women, who were facing the “challenges” of the judicial process.
Leifer, now in her 50s, fled Australia for Israel after allegations against her surfaced in 2008, moving with her family to Emmanuel settlement in the occupied West Bank.
Australian authorities laid charges in 2012 and requested his extradition two years later.
She arrived in Melbourne by flight in late January after six years of legal wrangling in Israel, including over whether she was faking mental illness to avoid being tried in Australia.
The Israeli Supreme Court rejected its lawyers’ last appeal against extradition last December.