MALKA Leifer appeared by video in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday, the first day of an online committal hearing testing evidence to determine whether she will stand trial.
Leifer faces 74 charges relating to child sexual abuse allegedly committed while principal of Adass Israel School in Melbourne between 2004 and 2008.
Wearing a white turban and blue top, and holding a hand to her face, Leifer sat in a room at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, a Melbourne women’s prison where she is in custody. Asked by magistrate Johanna Metcalf if she could hear and see the proceedings, Leifer was prompted before responding, “Yes, yes.”
The committal hearing, expected to run until Monday, excused Leifer and Jewish witnesses from attending this Thursday (Yom Kippur).
Metcalf closed the court to media during Monday’s testimony, and for all parts of the hearing when the alleged victims’ testimony is given.
The magistrate had earlier granted the suppression order, stating it was justified due to “the nature of the information … sensitivity of it”.
Complainants’ legal representatives told the court on Monday they accede to their clients testifying within Leifer’s vision as she follows proceedings. The court also heard complainants, sisters Elly Sapper, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer, will have a support person physically present. They have been granted permission to publicly identify themselves.
Leifer, who left Australia in 2008 when allegations against her surfaced, was extradited from Israel in January.
The 74 charges against her include 11 counts of rape, 47 of indecent assault, three of sexual penetration of a child and 13 of committing an indecent act with a child.
Leifer has claimed she is innocent of all charges.