Former principal Malka Leifer of Melbourne’s Adass Israel School has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing two students between 2004 and 2007. Leifer, 56, must serve a minimum of 11 years and six months before being eligible for early release. Following her release, she is expected to be deported to Israel, her native country. The victims, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper, who have chosen to publicly identify themselves, attended the court proceedings and welcomed the sentence.
Leifer was found guilty of 18 out of 27 charges, including six counts of rape, which carry a maximum sentence of 25 years each. The judge described her actions as predatory and persistent, taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of her victims. Leifer, a mother of eight, maintains her innocence and has shown no remorse.
The sentencing marks the end of a long legal battle that began in 2012 when criminal charges were filed against Leifer. The extradition process from Israel, where she had fled in 2008, started in 2014. Leifer’s lawyers argued that she was mentally unfit to stand trial. The court found that she had exaggerated her mental health conditions to delay the extradition proceedings.
The Adass Israel School’s current principal, Aaron Strasser, issued an apology to Leifer’s victims, acknowledging the breach of trust and the impact of the abuse on their lives and families. He emphasized the school’s commitment to the safety and well-being of its students, stating a zero-tolerance policy for any form of abuse.
The sentencing hearing was conducted via video link from a Melbourne women’s prison, where Leifer watched the proceedings. She was given credit for time already served in custody in Australia and Israel.