Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Malka Leifer’s victims, Australian sisters Nicole Meyer and Dassi Erlich, attend a protest in front of the Jerusalem court calling for her extradition, March 13, 2019.

Malka Leifer, the former principal of a Haredi school for girls in Melbourne, Australia, was sentenced on Thursday to 15 years in jail for sexually her students. With time served, Leifer will be eligible for parole in less than six years.

Back in April, a jury in the County Court of Victoria found Leifer, 56, guilty of rape, indecent assault, and sexual penetration of a child as related to the two sisters Elly Sapper and Dassi Erlich, between 2003 and 2007, but cleared her of all charges related to a third sister. The trial lasted six weeks.


In 2021, thirteen years after the former Adass Israel school principal had fled from Australia to Israel, she was extradited to Australian authorities by the Israel Prison Service in a covert operation led by Interpol. Her extradition was made possible after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected her appeal and recommended that she be handed over to the Australian authorities.

In 2007, Dassi Erlich, a young Israeli Olah from Australia, sought counseling for recurrent nightmares and anxiety over her experiences at the Adass Israel High School at the hands of principal Leifer. In February 2008, Erlich’s therapist contacted a psychologist in Melbourne who contacted a teacher she knew at the school. They dug up allegations of “inappropriate conduct” by Leifer, and the Australian teacher phoned Erlich and heard her claims about Leifer’s sexual abuse, and concluded that “important boundaries had been crossed.”

The teacher then confronted Leifer who denied everything and told a meeting of the school board: “You have destroyed my reputation. I’m not going to stand for this.”

UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman, June 8, 2021. / Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Australian jury was not told about Leifer’s escape to Israel.

In August 2022, former Health Minister and United Torah Judaism MK Yaacov Litzman was convicted by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on the charge of breach of public trust in connection with the Malka Leifer case. Litzman used his political influence to help delay Leifer’s extradition to Australia. With the support of Litzman and others, Leifer, who was facing 74 counts of child sexual abuse, was able to hide from justice in Israel for 13 years.

County Court Judge Mark Gamble said at the sentencing on Thursday: “This case is striking for just how vulnerable these victims were, and for the calculating way in which the offender, Mrs. Leifer, took callous advantage of those vulnerabilities in order to sexually abuse them for her own sexual gratification.”

She had a lot of help.


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