Ex-principal of Australian school ruled unfit for extradition proceedings in sex abuse case


(JTA) — The former principal of a Jewish girls’ school in Melbourne who fled Australia for Israel amid claims she sexually abused some of her students is unfit to stand trial for extradition proceedings in Israel, according to a psychiatric report.

Malka Leifer must be released from house arrest and attend regular clinical psychiatric treatment without hospitalization, a Jerusalem District Court judge ruled Thursday.

Leifer, who lives in the haredi Orthodox community of Bnei Brak, was banned from leaving Israel and must undergo five treatments over the next six months, after which a further psychiatric report will be submitted to the court. She is scheduled to undergo the first treatment this week.

The process will be repeated until Leifer is deemed fit to face the court; it could last as long as 10 years.

Leifer reportedly has failed to appear in court 10 times due to psychiatric episodes, some of which have required hospitalization.

Leifer is facing prosecution in Melbourne for 74 alleged sexual abuse offenses committed when she was employed as the principal of the Adass Israel School. She had been brought to Melbourne from Israel to fill the position and fled in 2008 before the allegations became public.

Manny Waks, co-founder of the child sexual abuse advocacy group Tzedek, told JTA: “Frankly, this is a very poor outcome – both for her many alleged victims and for the children in Israel. There is no justice for the former and no safety for the latter. In fact, there is nothing stopping Leifer from resuming her teaching in private schools. It’s a poor indictment of the Israeli judicial system. She’s either unwell and requires ongoing inpatient treatment or she must face justice immediately.”

Waks lived in Melbourne where he co-founded Tzedek, but now lives in Israel.

Some of Leifer’s alleged victims are living in Israel.

“They feel outraged, devastated and completely let down by Israel’s legal system,” Waks said. “They are also fearful of bumping into her on the street.”

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