Police have resumed investigating the Adass Israel School board members who helped convicted child abuser Malka Leifer flee Australia back in 2008.
Leifer was found guilty in April of 18 charges including rape, indecent assault and sexual penetration of a child aged 16 or 17, relating to sisters Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper between 2003 and 2007, while Leifer was their principal at the school. She was acquitted on charges relating to Nicole Meyer, a third sister. Leifer is awaiting sentencing with a plea hearing to take place later this month.
It follows a protracted drama spanning 15 years after, following a meeting of the then Adass Israel School board, she was spirited to Israel, leading to a long extradition process.
Former Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu, an advocate for the sisters, said Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton wrote to him on Friday to confirm police had resumed their investigation into the Adass Israel School board.
It follows Baillieu and VoiCSA chair Philip Dalidakis, also a former state MP, writing to Patton in April urging further investigation.
“As criminal proceedings against Ms Leifer have been finalised, Crime Command has re-commenced their investigation into the Adass Israel School Board,” Patton responded on Friday.
Baillieu told The Sunday Age he was “very pleased”.
It was our view that we owed it to the victims, we owed it to the police – who have done such a good job – and we owed it to the wider community [to advocate for a school board investigation]. And we’re very pleased that it would seem we’ve had some success,” he said.
Erlich tweeted on Saturday, “Very encouraged by decision of police to reopen the case against the school board. Crucial the board’s role is addressed to send a clear message to those that aid & abet perpetrators – they will not escape scrutiny.”
Adass Israel School principal Aaron Strasser told The Sunday Age the school “would cooperate fully” with the investigation.
“As the matter is the subject of an investigation we will not be making any further comment,” he told the masthead.