Israeli Court Lifts House Arrest of Australian Former Jewish School Principal Accused of Abuse

Malka Leifer is mentally unfit to face legal proceedings to extradite her to Australia on 74 allegations of sexual abuse, judge rules.

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Malka Leifer, a former headmistress at Adass Israel School, who stands to face 74 counts of indecent assault and rape in Australia
Malka Leifer, a former headmistress at Adass Israel School, who stands to face 74 counts of indecent assault and rape in AustraliaCredit: Courtesy

A former principal of a Jewish girls' school in Australia will not face immediate extradition from Israel to Australia on 74 allegations of indecent assault and rape, reportedly involving girls at the Jewish school in Melbourne, because she is currently mentally incompetent to face extradition proceedings, a Jerusalem judge ruled on Thursday.

As reported by Australian Associated Press, Jerusalem District Court Judge Amnon Cohen ruled that any move to extradite Malka Leifer, the former principal at the Adass Israel School will wait until she has concluded psychiatric treatment, which "could go on for years," the Australian news agency reported.

Based on a psychiatric evaluation, the judge reportedly ordered initial outpatient psychiatric treatment for Leifer for six months, but the Australian Associated Press added that can will be reevaluated periodically in a process that could last up to ten years.

The mother of eight ran the Adass Israel girls’ school from 2001 to 2008, until she was fired amid accusations that she molested students. She fled to Israel some 24 hours after the allegations became public.

Following an earlier hearing in Leifler's case last month, James McGarry, Australia's deputy ambassador to Israel, told Haaretz that the Australian government has a keen interest in monitoring the progress of this case. Israel's Justice Ministry, for its part, told Haaretz at the time that Israeli authorities had been making every effort to secure Leifer's extradition to Australia, due to the bilateral extradition treaty between the two countries.

Several of Leifer's victims reportedly currently live in Israel. Manny Waks, an Australian-Israeli advocate for child sexual abuse victims, told Haaretz last month that he has been in touch with some of Leifer's accusers and they are "having trouble eating, sleeping and concentrating on other matters."

"It seems obvious that if Leifer is so unwell that she can't even attend court, she needs to be in a psychiatric ward. And when she's well enough, she should be brought before the court to face the long-overdue extradition hearing. This will ensure both justice for the alleged victims and the safety of Israel's children," Waks said.

With reporting from JTA.

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