Published: 25 July 2020
Author: Penny Savidis
Malka Leifer argues two of her victims consented to sexual abuse
In a further move in Malka Leifer’s long extradition process adding insult to injury, her lawyers have recently alleged that the prosecution has failed to prove a lack of consent in relation to two of her victims.
Leifer is facing 74 counts of abuse against three former students in Australia relating to her time as Principal of the ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel Girls School in Melbourne. Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 after the abuse allegations surfaced.
Appearing in an Israeli extradition hearing last Monday, Leifer’s defence counsel argued that because some of the alleged abuse occurred when two of the victims were not legally children under Israeli law, they could have rejected Leifer’s advances. In response, the criminal prosecution argued that while the issue of consent could be agitated at trial, it was not a relevant consideration in extradition proceedings.
Leifer’s defence lawyers also claimed that a fair trial in Australia will not be possible because of the public notoriety the case has attracted, arguing the media had “turned her into a monster”.
As one of Leifer’s alleged victims told reporters, “There was a lot of victim-shaming today that went on in the court."
It is an appalling but sadly not uncommon tactic for alleged perpetrators of abuse to argue in criminal proceedings that they thought the victims were consenting at the time. It beggars belief that this is an argument that can be mounted in cases of alleged child sexual abuse, when the alleged victims are clearly underage and incapable of legally consenting. The monumental power imbalance between a child and their abuser means that consent can never be freely given.
In RCT’s Abuse Law practice, we often speak with child abuse survivors who for years have felt that they were to blame in some way for the abuse occurring. Survivors of child abuse are never to blame for what took place, but the perpetrators of their abuse often make them feel this way. Survivors can often feel guilty that they did not speak out to stop the abuse when it was occurring or afterwards. Again, the paralysing fear felt by children being abused, and the inherent power imbalance between the abuser and abused more than adequately explain this response.
We continue to stand in solidarity with the three strong women alleging abuse by Leifer, and wish them every strength through the protracted criminal process.
After a 6-year extradition battle, Malka Leifer was finally extradited from Israel to Australia in late January 2021 to face 74 criminal charges in Melbourne. The charges relate to her time as Head of the Adass Israel School. Leifer appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates' Court by videolink on 28 January 2021 and has been ordered to remain in custody until next appearing in court on 9 April 2021: For more information see The Age: Ex-principal Malka Leifer faces court charged with sexually abusing students
The expert team at RCT Law is ready to assist all survivors of abuse to achieve a speedy and satisfactory settlement. To discuss your claim and the process we would use, call 1300 366 441 to make a free, no-obligation and confidential appointment.