TW: Sexual assault and child sexual abuse
Malka Leifer, the former principal of a school in Melbourne, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for multiple counts of rape and sexual assault.
A jury found Leifer guilty of 18 charges relating to two sisters in April. Both are former students of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Adass Israel School. Some of the offences occurred when they were children.
The 56-year-old will serve at least 11.5 years in prison before she is eligible for parole.
Leifer left Australia for Israel in 2008, after one sister told a social worker about Leifer’s abuse.
Australia lodged an extradition request in 2013 for Leifer to return to Melbourne to face charges.
In 2016, an Israeli court ruled Leifer was unfit to stand trial on mental health grounds. However, authorities later concluded Leifer exaggerated her mental ill-health. Australia successfully extradited her to face trial in 2021.
Police charged Leifer with 29 offences. The jury cleared her of all charges relating to a third sister.
The remaining offences included multiple rape and indecent assault charges, as well as charges of penetration and indecent acts with an under-18-year-old.
In April, a jury found her guilty of 18 charges. Leifer maintained her innocence throughout the trial.
Judge Mark Gamble summarised impact statements from Leifer’s victims, describing the “major toll” Leifer’s abuse had on the sisters’ lives.
“It is [Leifer] alone who should feel guilty and ashamed for what occurred,” Gamble said.
Gamble said he did not consider a character reference provided for Leifer in his sentencing, as it was her standing in the community that enabled her offending.
Elly Sapper, one of the sisters who brought the allegations, told 9 News today’s ruling “recognises the harm and pain that Malka Leifer caused each one of us to suffer”.
“We are so relieved [she] is in prison for 15 years and cannot prey on anyone else.”
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