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Monday, August 18, 2014
Malka Leifer ex- Principal of Adass Israel School in Melbourne arrested over alleged sexual abuse
A FORMER principal of a Melbourne Jewish girls’ school has been arrested amid claims she sexually abused students including sisters.
Malka Leifer was arrested in Israel overnight where it is believed extradition proceedings have started in an attempt to have her returned to Melbourne.
The Attorney General’s office confirmed this morning Ms Leifer is wanted in Melbourne to face allegations of historic sexual offending against a string of girls.
The mother of eight left Australia in 2008 after she was sacked as principal at the ultra orthodox Adass Israel School in Elsternwick.
The sacking followed complaints that she had acted inappropriately with students while principal between 2001 and 2008.
Victoria Police launched an investigation into the complaints in 2011.
A police spokesman confirmed this morning that an investigation into “complaints of historical sex offences at an Elsternwick School” continued.
It is believed Ms Leifer could face dozens of charges of indecent assault and rape.
Her arrest is the latest in a string of scandals to rock Melbourne’s orthodox Jewish community.
Manny Waks, founder of sexual assault victims support group Tzedek, said Ms Leifer’s arrest was a welcome development.
“It should be seen in the greater context of the ongoing child sexual abuse scandal that has been plaguing the Australian Jewish community,” he said.
“This is further evidence that the tide is turning within our community.
“Many victims are no longer willing to remain silent, and neither is the community.”
Mr Waks said he expected the Adass Israel School would co-operate fully with the police.
“I also hope and expect that the police will examine all the circumstances surrounding Ms Leifer leaving Australia and hold to account anyone who may have acted inappropriately.”
Adass Israel School principal Prof Israel Herszberg issued a short statement in light of the arrest.
“The school has and will continue to co-operate fully with the authorities but otherwise is unable to comment further where the matters involving Mrs Leifer are before the courts.”
The school, of about 500 students, caters primarily to members of the closed ultra-orthodox Adass Israel Community in Elsternwick and Ripponlea.
In line with their strict religious beliefs students at the school are segregated on the basis of gender and have little interaction with people outside of the community.
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