Malka Leifer: former Adass Israel principal and alleged child abuser living free in Israel

The former principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls’ school in Melbourne, who fled the country after allegedly sexually abusing her students, has returned to a conservative, religious settlement in Israel a free woman, much to the outrage of her new neighbours.

Malka Leifer, who is Israeli, was released from two years’ house arrest in the ultra-Orthodox Israeli city of Bnei Brak in early June this year and has since moved back to a 3700-strong Jewish community in the West Bank settlement of Immanuel, south-west of Nablus.

Ms Leifer, the former principal of the Adass Israel School in Elsternwick, is wanted by Victoria Police on 74 counts of sexual assault and rape involving 10 girls at the school from 2003.

She fled to Israel with her family in the middle of the night, allegedly with the help of senior members of Melbourne’s secretive Adass community, after accusations of sexual abuse were first raised against her in 2008.

In 2014, Ms Leifer was arrested by Israeli police at the request of Australian authorities. However, she has successfully managed to evade 10 extradition proceedings, with her lawyers consistently arguing she is unwell and unfit to face court.

Her freedom came as a member of the Adass community in Melbourne spoke for the first time about the woman considered to be a “master manipulator”.

On the condition of anonymity, he denied Adass members were continuing to help Ms Leifer, saying there had been painful lessons for the community.

Read the story by Kate Shuttleworth in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald (also found in the Eyre Peninsula Tribune).