Leifer hearing: Cleaner saw Leifer at school with girls

September 16, 2021 by  
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After days of testimony behind closed doors, a former cleaner at a Jewish school has given evidence in open court against Malka Leifer.

Malka Leifer in court June 14, 2018 Photo: Hillel Maeir/TPS

The 55-year-old former ultra-Orthodox principal is facing 74 child sexual abuse charges involving three sisters during her time at Melbourne’s Adass Israel School between 2004 and 2008.

A committal hearing in Melbourne Magistrates Court has been closed while two of the three sisters – Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper – give their evidence.

The court opened briefly on Thursday morning for Mario Toledo to give evidence through a Spanish interpreter.

He worked at the school as a cleaner for 16 years, retiring in 2017.

Mr Toledo told the court he would see Leifer at the school when he worked on Sundays, both in her office and in neighbouring classrooms.

On occasions, she would have one, two or three girls with her, but he said he never heard conversations between any of them.

“I never paid any attention,” he said.

Mr Toledo said he never spoke to students at the school, but not because he was told not to.

“They never gave me explicit instructions not to do so, but I understood the religion,” he said.

Occasionally students might ask for his help to move something and he would quickly assist, but said it was only for work things.

Prosecutor Nanette Rogers said no further evidence would be called on Thursday, and the court would continue behind closed doors on Friday when the second of the sisters resumes her evidence.

Leifer was not present in court for Thursday’s evidence, having been granted an exemption to allow her to observe the religious day Yom Kippur.

No Jewish witnesses were to be called on Thursday either.

The committal hearing is set to include evidence from nine witnesses.

Clinical psychologist Dr Vicki Gordon, former Adass Israel School teachers Esther Spiegelmen and Sharon Bromberg and former school counsellor Chana Rabinowitz are among them.

Witnesses and Leifer, who is currently at Melbourne’s women’s prison, the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, are all appearing by video link.

Report: Karen Sweeney/AAP

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