Monday, August 18, 2014

Former Vic teacher to be extradited from Israel on sex assault charges

The Australian News - August 18, 2014

Malka Leifer
THE former principal of a Melbourne Jewish girls’ school who fled Australia in 2008 after being accused of sexual assault has been arrested in Israel and is facing extradition.

The federal Attorney-General’s Department has confirmed Malka Leifer was taken into custody in Israel after an extradition request from Australian authorities.

The mother of eight left Australia six years ago after she was sacked as principal of the ultra-orthodox Adass Israel School Elsternwick following allegations of improper conduct with students between 2001 — 2008.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General’s Department said Ms Leifer was wanted to face prosecution in Victoria for alleged sexual assault offences.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said an investigation continued into complaints of historic sex offences at an Elsternwick school. Both the department and police said it would be inappropriate to comment further, given the matter was now before the courts.

Adass Israel school, which has around 50 pupils, caters to the ultra-orthodox Adass Israel Community in the Melbourne suburbs of Elsternwick and Ripponlea.

Manny Waks, founder of Tzedek, a support group for Jewish victims of child sexual abuse, said he welcomed the development.

“It should be seen in the greater context of the ongoing child sexual abuse scandal that has been plaguing the Australian Jewish community in recent years,” he added.

“Many victims are no longer willing to remain silent, and neither is the community.”

He added: “I hope and expect that the Adass Israel School will co-operate fully with the police.”

The arrest is one of a string of scandals within the Jewish community. In 2008 David Kramer, a former teacher at Yeshiva College in Caulfield, Vic, was jailed on child sexual assault charges in the US.

Allegations were made in the 1990s that Kramer, now 53, had abused boys while teaching at Yeshiva but the alleged incidents were not reported to the police.

Kramer was dismissed by the school and reportedly was asked to leave the country.

Vicki Polin, of the US-based International Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault, said at the time of his arrest in the US that she had been contacted by several former pupils and parents of the school.

“I have been told that Kramer abused over 30 boys in his time at Yeshiva,” Ms Polin said.
She said when parents complained to the school, Yeshiva Centre head, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner — who died in July — told Kramer to leave.

“He paid for him to leave — he gave him a ticket,” Ms Polin said.

After Leifer’s arrest, Adass Israel school principal Professor Israel Herszberg said in a statement: “The school has and will continue to co-operate fully with the authorities but otherwise is unable to comment further where the matters involving Mrs Leifer are before the courts.”

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