Australian Jewish school may be investigated

by Robert Ballantyne30 Sep 2015

Adass Israel School in Elsternwick could be investigated for possible criminal culpability after helping its principal leave the country. It is alleged that Malka Leifer, engaged in sexual behaviour with eight of her students in 2008 while she was principal at the school.

Leifer, a dual Israeli-Australian national, fled to Israel after the allegations became public. She is under house arrest and has been awaiting extradition for over a year.

“Police will be looking at this as a broader part of the investigation to determine whether an offence has been committed,” police told The Australian.

This month, an Australian court found the school liable in a civil suit, ordering it to pay more than a million dollars to one of the victims.

“The conduct demonstrates a disdain for due process for criminal investigation in this state,” Judge Jack Rush said.

Rush also noted the role played by the school’s board members in helping the disgraced principal obtain late night plane tickets for herself and four of her children.

“It is apparent that either it was not a priority for [board members] Benedikt or Ernst that Leifer answered to the criminal law of this state or that this state’s jurisdiction was deliberately flouted,” Rush was quoted as saying.
“Upon consideration of the manner in which the school arranged for Leifer’s departure from the country, I find the deliberate flouting of jurisdiction the most likely motivation.”

Earlier this year, members of an Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard testimony regarding the role of rabbis in covering up sexual abuse and intimidating the families of victims.

In a similar case to that of Leifer’s, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman of Sydney’s Yeshiva Center admitted before the commission that he had failed to report that a community member had informed him of his intention to flee the country shortly after being accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.
 

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