An Australian magistrate court in Melbourne determined Thursday that Malka Leifer, 55, will face the County Court of Victoria for dozens of child sex abuse charges, after prosecutors in Melbourne have convinced the court, over ten days of hearings, of the validity of the accusations leveled against her. Those allegations were made by two sisters—Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper—and Nicole Meyer. Leifer, who was their principal at the Adass Israel school from 2003 to 2008, is vehemently denying the charges.
The magistrate court has heard the 74 charges against Leifer, and on Thursday dropped four of them because they were allegedly committed in Israel. Leifer, in a blue dress and black and white sneakers, participated in the hearing by video from the prison where she currently resides.
Magistrate Johanna Metcalf announced on Thursday that “having carefully considered the entirety of the evidence … in my opinion the evidence is of sufficient weight to support a conviction. … I propose to commit the accused for trial.”
The judge then asked: “Mrs. Leifer, do you plead guilty or not guilty?” and the accused responded: “Not guilty.”
No trial date has been set yet, but there will be a hearing on the case on October 21. Leifer did not ask for bail and will remain in jail.
In January 2021, after more than 13 years as a fugitive from justice in Israel, Leifer was finally extradited to Australia. She was able to avoid extradition largely due to the relentless and possibly illegal efforts of former Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, a Haredi politician who has been accused of manipulating the healthcare system to protect Leifer. Israel Police recommended in August 2019 that Litzman be indicted for “fraud and breach of trust” for his role in the Leifer case. Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced in May 2021 that he plans to indict Litzman for obstruction of justice and breach of trust.
In 2015, the Supreme Court of Victoria awarded ruled against the Adass Israel school to the tune of one million Australian dollars, as well as 150,000 Australian dollars in exemplary damages against Malka Leifer personally. Australian police continue to investigate the actions of some members of the Adass Israel community in helping Leifer escape justice.