MELBOURNE, Australia – A former headmistress of a Jewish ultra-Orthodox school charged with child sexual abuse will be held in custody before her court hearing in September after appearing in an Australian court on Friday.
Malka Leifer, a dual Israeli-Australian citizen extradited to Australia in January, faces 74 child sexual abuse charges while she works as a religion teacher and principal at Adass Israel School in Melbourne.
Leifer, who appeared on video link at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, has not requested bail and will remain in custody before a five-day hearing due to begin September 13th.
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Malka Leifer’s lawyers say they could investigate the private lives of prosecutors in a sexual offense trial. Ms. Leifer will hold a five-day hearing in September at @abcnewshttps: //t.co/yib4qyarvK pic.twitter.com/QHpBY1bWyK
The scheduled hearing to determine whether Leifer will be tried in a higher court will hear evidence from 10 witnesses, some of whom are remotely located in Israel.
According to official records, charges against her include rape, indecent assault and child sexual abuse, which allegedly took place between 2004 and 2008.
Her alleged victims are three sisters, Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper, who publicly identified when they pushed for Leifer to file charges.
Leifer, now in her 50s, fled Australia to Israel after allegations surfaced against her in 2008 and moved with her family to the Emmanuel settlement in the West Bank.
The long saga examined Jerusalem’s relationship with Canberra. The frustration in Australia of expressing interest in Leifer’s speedy return at the highest levels of the Israeli government peaked in 2019 when allegations emerged that then Israeli Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was pressuring state psychiatrists to diagnose Leifer , to which he fled, Israel was found mentally incapable of facing justice in 2008.
The allegations arose from the fact that the doctor assigned to the case had changed his assessment of Leifer’s state of mind three times. Police recommended that Litzman be charged with his alleged conduct in connection with the case.
Leifer left Israel to work at Adass Israel in Melbourne in 2000. When sexual abuse allegations surfaced against her eight years later, members of the school board bought the mother of eight a plane ticket to Israel so she could escape before charges were brought.
She came on a flight to Melbourne in late January after she had argued in court in Israel for six years, including whether she was faking a mental illness so as not to be tried in Australia.
A first extradition attempt failed after Leifer was admitted to psychiatric facilities and experts her Declared incapable of standing on trial.
Undercover private investigators later filmed her leading a normal life and arranged for Israeli authorities to investigate whether she was feigning mental illness, which led to her being arrested again in February 2018 led.
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