Leifer sued again

April 6, 2016 by Toni Susskind
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A second  lawsuit has been launched in Melbourne’s Supreme Court against Malka Leifer the former principal of the Adass Yisroel School who is fighting authorities in Israel seeking to have her extradited to Australia to face charges of child sexual abuse.

In September 2015, a former student at the haredi Orthodox Adass Israel School, was awarded over $1.2 million dollars in compensation against the College and Malka Leifer.

Malka Leifer

Malka Leifer

Last week a second lawsuit was filed in the Supreme Court against Malka Leifer by the sister of the victim who was awarded damages alleging serial sexual abuse.

 

 

In last year’s case, the court heard that the abuse had begun in 2002, when the student was 15, taking place at the Elsternwick campus, the principal’s home and on school camps. “By the time the alleged victim was 16, the principal was touching the student’s skin and penetrating her.”

Justice Rush of the Supreme Court, dismissed the schools defence that “a separate body responsible for religious education had employed Mrs Leifer, not the school,” finding that “Mrs Leifer’s role was so powerful that her actions amounted to being that of the school’s.” Additionally, he slammed the schools response as “deplorable and disgraceful.” When the abuse became public knowledge in 2008, a “committee meeting [was then organised] to arrange to fly Mrs Leifer out of the country.” Several Adass board members are now under investigation for helping Leifer leave the country in order to avoid investigation.

Leifer is currently under house arrest in Israel and is fighting Australian authorities attempts to extradite her to face the 74 charges of sexual abuse. Recently an Israeli judge rejected her counsel’s claims that she is unable to return to Australia due to “depression and panic attacks.”

It is the seventh court hearing for Ms ­Leifer, who has been ordered to undertake a second psychiatric evaluation, before a ruling on the extradition will be made.

Melbourne-based child sexual abuse advocacy group Tzedek has praised the courage of the former student of Adass Israel’s girls school, who launched a lawsuit against its former principal, Malka Leifer, claiming years of serial sexual abuse.

CEO Dr Michelle Meyer said: “This must have been a difficult decision for this (second) Leifer claimant from the highly insular community of Adass, where abuse survivors seeking justice must contend with the consequences of coming under the spotlight. Such exposure impacts on family members’ marriage prospects and has other significant ramifications for her and her family that survivors within such closed communities have regularly raised concerns about.

This survivor should be commended for her courage and needs to be supported and recognised as a champion for her role in breaking down the silence and paving the way for other survivors to come forward. Tzedek, as a support service, will assist any such survivor in dealing with the cultural issues, their own emotional issues and responses from family and friends. It can also offer support with deciding and managing other things such as reporting to police, court attendance and sourcing counselling services.

Adass Israel school has also offered support for survivors abused by Malka Leifer. No doubt this institution is still grappling with the aftermath of this whole matter.

The case has also affected and taught lessons to the broader Jewish community. It is a sobering example of how females can be sex offenders, how even a school principal and a revered religious leader can breach trust and abuse power, and how the leadership of a respected organisation can prioritise the institution over its members and even the victims among them.

The Royal Commission has shed light on hundreds of such cases of institutional responses to child sexual abuse. To move forward from this, institutions need to create policies and cultural change so that protecting children is embedded in the practice and decision making of every board, leader, staff member and volunteer. Adass and other Jewish day schools in Victoria have commenced this process. The responses have included policy development, staff training and parent education programs and also protective behaviour programs for children.

Meanwhile, the Jewish and broader community is still waiting and watching as Malka Leifer manipulates the Israeli legal system in her attempts to avoid extradition. Let us hope that justice prevails over her tactics. Survivors and society as a whole need to see that justice is done as part of their and our healing process.”

 

 

 

Comments

2 Responses to “Leifer sued again”
  1. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    I endorse what you say, Erica. There is no way that the Israeli courts should disallow extradition for this woman. It would be a terrible thing. I don’t accept that her helpers didn’t know any better (although perhaps you are inferring that that they did, but chose not to). They have the wrong priorities and care more for saving face than the realities of the alleged sexual crimes against children. If Leifer is found guilty of what she is accused of, details of which we have access to in the J-Wire article, then her acts have been truly abominable. That she has children of her own and could still perpetrate such acts is what is the most difficult thing to understand.

    Those who helped her escape to Israel knew full well what they were doing and should be punished for it. And those in the Jewish community who might ostracise the victim/s and their family for speaking out, are hypocritically religious and lesser human beings than Judaism encourages. As to the 15 year old who ‘didn’t have the social skills to speak up in 2002’, that is a complex and fraught matter. No doubt she was traumatised, which can affect when and if one speaks out (often there is self-shame involved, too), and sometimes parents are almost the last to know of the terrible predicaments their children are in due to silence. It’s true, too, that sometimes parents don’t believe their children, or don’t want to.

    Surely this matter shouldn’t be allowed to drag on much longer. So, Leifer is having another psychological assessment – too bad if she’s anxious, panic-stricken and stressed; she’s bound to be under the circumstances, isn’t she?

  2. Erica Edelman says:

    Another case of “too little, too late.
    It is criminal that the correct processes were not in place before this. It’s criminal that “her helpers”
    Didn’t know any better. It’s criminal that “the children” are caught up in adult issues of repercussion. It’s criminal that a religious Jewish sect is living in the dark ages. It is UNFATHOMABLE that a teenager
    Of 15 didn’t have the social skills to speak up in 2002. That is a disgusting failure of and by the adults who were looking after her/them. Inclusive of their parents.
    Stop messing around with Leifer. Drug her to the eyeballs and bring her back to Australia where she should be locked away. In prison she should get plenty of time to ponder her religion and her crimes.

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