Sydney, Australia, Aug 24 (EFE).- A court in Australia on Thursday sentenced the former ultra-Orthodox principal of a Jewish school to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing two students between 2004 and 2007.
(L-R) Nicole Meyer, Elly Sapper and Dassi Erlich speak outside the Victorian County Court in Melbourne, Australia, 24 August 2023. EFE-EPA/JOEL CARRETT AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Judge Mark Gamble said in his sentence that Malka Leifer had shown “no remorse or contrition” about sexually abusing Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper “for her own sexual gratification.”
(L-R) Dassi Erlich, Elly Sapper and Nicole Meye leave the Victorian County Court in Melbourne, Australia, 24 August 2023. EFE-EPA/JOEL CARRETT AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
The judge remarked that Leifer, 56, was viewed as “a leader in the school and in the Adass community and her actions and decisions went unquestioned” and allowed her to take advantage of the young and vulnerable victims, who belonged to an ultra-conservative family.
(L-R) Elly Sapper, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer speak to media as they arrive for the sentencing of former ultra-Orthodox Jewish school principal Malka Leifer at the Victorian County Court in Melbourne, Australia, 24 August 2023. EFE-EPA/JOEL CARRETT AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Leifer’s behavior “was predatory in nature, involving as it did the exploitation and manipulation of two very vulnerable victims over whom she had absolute control,” the judge added.
Leifer was found guilty in April of 18 charges of sexual abuse, including five of rape, perpetrated between 2003 and 2007.
Leifer faced a total of 27 charges for the alleged sexual assaults on sisters Dassi Erlich, Elly Sapper and Nicole Meyer, but the jury found her not guilty of nine of them, including those linked to Meyer.
Sapper, who was present at the sentencing hearing, told reporters that she was grateful that the Australian legal system had “recognized and validated the extreme impact of abuse by female perpetrators.”
“Today’s ruling of 15 years recognizes the harm and pain that Malka Leifer caused each one of us to suffer over so many years,” she told reporters outside the court.
“Today really marks the end of this chapter of our lives and opens the chapter to us healing. To any other survivors in this nightmare: you are never alone, we are all behind you,” Erlich said.
Leifer, who arrived in Australia from Israel in January 2021 after a tortuous extradition process, began working at the school in 2001 as head of religious studies.
The first allegations against her began to come to light in 2008, when she was already the principal, and led her to flee to Israel.
In 2012, Australia issued an international arrest warrant against her and two years later requested her extradition from Israel, where she was placed under house arrest.
In 2016, a court psychiatrist ruled that she could not stand on trial as she was mentally ill.
However, a year later, private investigators showed that Leifer was leading a normal life in Jerusalem and another psychiatric panel found that the defendant had pretended to be mentally ill, allowing the long battle to extradite her to Australia to resume in January 2021. EFE