‘Mind boggling’

Principal allegedly molested students, fled to Israel, and faked mental illness to escape justice

Malka Leifer, a former Australian teacher accused of dozens of cases of sexual abuse of girls at a school, arrives for a hearing at the District Court in Jerusalem on February 27, 2018. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)

The complicated legal saga of Malka Leifer, the former Melbourne school principal who allegedly molested at least eight of her students before fleeing to Israel, has taken yet another turn after a Jerusalem judge moved to deny her bail. Rejecting an argument by Leifer’s lawyers that the psychiatric medication given to her in prison constituted a threat to her life, Judge Ran Winograd ruled to retain her in custody pending the results of a health assessment ahead of her extradition hearing on March 6.

Leifer fled to Israel in 2008. Since then, her lawyers have argued that she is too anxious and mentally ill to be extradited, tried in court, or held in prison. But an undercover investigation revealed that Leifer appeared to be living life in Israel completely normally, and she was finally taken into custody last year.

The former principal was rearrested in February 2018 for obstructing justice by feigning a mental illness. The recent bail hearing was the first since allegations surfaced that Israel’s Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman directed ministry officials to issue fraudulent psychiatric reports to prevent Leifer from being extradited.

Two of Leifer’s accusers, sisters Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer, told reporters after the bail hearing that their alleged abuser had claimed she had health problems to escape justice “a hundred times before,” and that they expected her to “keep saying it to try to get bail.”

An ally of the sisters, Jewish Community Watch member Shana Aaronson, said she had been appalled to see Leifer show up to court alongside the principals of two girls’ schools who volunteered to supervise her should she be granted bail.

“Considering what she’s facing charges for, that’s pretty mind boggling,” said Aaronson.

Watch in-depth video coverage of the undercover investigation into Leifer below.

Read the full story at ABC News.

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