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Middle East

Malka Leifer accused of sexual harassment in Israel before moving to Australia

Tuesday 26/February/2019 - 10:39 AM
Malka Leifer
Malka Leifer


The Times of Israel

Two new allegation of sexual misconduct that took place in an Israeli school decades ago have surfaced against former principal Malka Leifer، who is facing extradition back to Australia over multiple charges of sex abuse at a Jewish girls school there.

The accusations، which occurred in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak some 20 years ago، could indicate that ultra-Orthodox leaders، some of whom have allegedly continued to protect Leifer، sent her to Australia rather than report her to authorities، which activists claim is a common practice in the insular community.

The accusations are the first to be leveled against Leifer from before her time in Australia. She cannot face prosecution over them because the statute of limitations has expired.

Up to this point، the allegations against Leifer have centered largely around her time in Melbourne where she served as principal of the Adass Israel ultra-Orthodox girls’ school from 2000 to 2008. She is facing 74 counts of sexual misconduct charges there.

Two new allegation of sexual misconduct that took place in an Israeli school decades ago have surfaced against former principal Malka Leifer، who is facing extradition back to Australia over multiple charges of sex abuse at a Jewish girls school there.

The accusations، which occurred in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak some 20 years ago، could indicate that ultra-Orthodox leaders، some of whom have allegedly continued to protect Leifer، sent her to Australia rather than report her to authorities، which activists claim is a common practice in the insular community.

The accusations are the first to be leveled against Leifer from before her time in Australia. She cannot face prosecution over them because the statute of limitations has expired.

Up to this point، the allegations against Leifer have centered largely around her time in Melbourne where she served as principal of the Adass Israel ultra-Orthodox girls’ school from 2000 to 2008. She is facing 74 counts of sexual misconduct charges there.

In July، a man living in the northern West Bank settlement Emmanuel، where Leifer lived after fleeing to Israel as allegations came to light، accused the woman of having tried to molest his daughter.

Leifer، currently jailed at the Neve Tirza women’s prison in Ramle as she faces extradition، taught at an all-girls high school belonging to the Gur Hasidic sect in the central، ultra-Orthodox town of Bnei Brak in the late 1990s.

A former student at that seminary told the Kan public broadcaster Monday that Leifer would “cling” to her.

"She would take me for private conversation، one on one… down in the bomb-shelter. We would sit there and should would stroke my leg،” the woman، who declined to disclose her identity said.

"She was crazy about me. She just kept stroking…back and forth on my skirt."

The alleged victim said Leifer once invited her to her home، but that she could not remember what had happened there.

"I remember running home…I tried to forget those years،” she said.

The Times of Israel confirmed Monday that there is a second former student in Bnei Brak who accuses Leifer of having made inappropriate sexual advances at her nearly two decades ago.

An official from Jewish Community Watch، an NGO that combats child sex abuse، said that the woman is not yet prepared to go public with the allegations.

A former education official in Bnei Brak said she believed that rather than reporting her، community leaders sent Leifer to Australia after they learned of her transgressions.

The Orthodox community has come under scrutiny in the past for other cases in which teachers and others accused of inappropriate behavior were apparently moved to other communities rather than being reported to authorities and prosecuted.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman، head of the ultra-Orthodox UTJ party، is being investigated over suspicions that he helped Liefer avoid extradition hearings with falsified medical affidavits.

Liefer had managed to postpone seeing a judge for years before 2018 by claiming she was unwell، sparking outrage among her former victims.

Responding to the latest allegations against their former principal، three of her alleged victims from Adass Israel said in a statement that they were “encouraged and heartened by the bravery of those finding their voices."


Edited by Rabea Yehia

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