Ex-Melbourne Principal Arrested in Israel for Alleged Sex Abuse

Police seek West Bank resident's extradition over claims she abused students at ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls’ school.

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Melbourne's skyline.
Melbourne's skyline. Credit: Donaldytong

JTA - A former principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls’ school in Melbourne is facing extradition from Israel to Australia on claims she sexually abused some of her students.

Malka Leifer, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Emmanuel, was arrested Sunday, officials said.

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.

Leifer denied any wrongdoing but police in Melbourne continued to investigate the claims.

“Ms. Leifer is wanted to face prosecution in Victoria for alleged sexual assault offenses,” a spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s Department told local media this week.

Manny Waks, the chief executive of the Jewish child sexual abuse victim advocacy group Tzedek, welcomed the news.

“It should be seen in the greater context of the ongoing child sexual abuse scandal that has been plaguing the Australian Jewish community in recent years where we have seen numerous convictions in both Melbourne and Sydney,” he said in a statement.

“This is further evidence that the tide is turning within our community; many victims are no longer willing to remain silent, and neither is the community.”

The tight-knit Adass Israel community was founded by Holocaust survivors in the early 1940s. It comprises about 200 haredi families.

In December 2012, David Kramer, a former teacher at Yeshivah College, the Chabad boys’ school, was extradited from the United States to face charges of sexual abuse. He was jailed last year for three years and four months.

Two other men – David Cyprys and Shannon Francis – also were jailed last year for sex crimes against Jewish children in Melbourne.

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