Israel Arrests Australian Principal Suspected of Abusing ultra-Orthodox Schoolgirls

Police suspect the woman, who fled to Israel in 2008, pretended to be mentally ill in order to avoid extradition

ARCHIVE - Police station in central Israel
David Bachar

Israel Police arrested on Monday a Jewish-Australian woman in her 50s, suspected of sexually abusing young girls at a school in Australia.

The woman lived in a settlement in the northern West Bank and police suspect she pretended to be suffering from a psychiatric condition. The police are expected to ask that she remain in custody.

The woman fled Australia in 2008 after authorities charged her with sexual abuse of three girls at an ultra-Orthodox school she headed in Melbourne. She is suspected of abusing three sisters in order to "get them ready" for marriage, allegedly taking advantage of their poor socioeconomic situation.

In 2014, Israeli authorities asked that she be extradited per Australia's request. In June 2016, however, an Israeli court ruled that the woman is mentally unfit to stand trial. It was decided she receive treatment and a psychiatric committee will reevaluate her condition every six month. Since then, the committee convened three times and ruled she is unfit to stand trial.

Last year, Israel Police began investigating whether the woman is pretending to be mentally ill in order to avoid extradition. After a covert investigation, she was arrested. 

The police conducted what they termed "a secret investigation" for about a month before arresting the suspect using "advanced technology" to collect evidence.

The police's department for international affairs has requested that the State Prosecutor's Office now renew the extradition process against her, "in order to declare her extradition to Australia."