One step closer to justice for child sex abuse survivors
In a positive move forward, an Israeli Court has ruled that former Melbourne school principal, Malka Leifer, should be extradited to Australia. The decision comes after years of delay and uncertainty for Leifer’s victims, who were students at Adass Israel Girls’ School, but is not the end of their journey by far.
Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 when allegations of the abuse were raised with the school but was only arrested in 2013. There are bizarre circumstances surrounding Leifer’s hurried departure from Australia, as well as other Jewish organizations that have been rocked by child sex abuse allegations, and the significance of civil litigation that followed, in which one of Leifer’s victims was awarded over one million dollars in compensation by the Victorian Supreme Court.
Since Australia requested Leifer’s extradition so that she could stand trial for 74 counts of child sex offences, there have been over 70 court hearings held in Israel, during which Leifer and her legal team have attempted to evade the extradition request.
In recent times, Leifer has outrageously argued that her victims consented to the abuse, in a desperate effort to avoid criminal responsibility for her actions.
Unfortunately, Leifer’s extradition is far from certain at this stage. She retains legal options to appeal the extradition decision to a higher Israeli Court, and even if the higher Court approves the extradition, political and logistical hurdles remain, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which makes international travel extremely difficult.
The circumstances of Leifer fleeing Australia, and the delay that has ensued in securing her extradition, have undoubtedly caused grave distress to the victims involved, and prevented criminal justice from running its course.
We continue to support all efforts undertaken by the Australian and Israeli governments to bring Leifer to stand trial and applaud the strength and resilience of her victims in their continued fight for justice.