Principal ‘took advantage of girls’ vulnerablity’
Prosecutor addresses jury

Principal ‘took advantage of girls’ vulnerablity’

Closing arguments have begun in the trial for former Addass Israel principal Malka Leifer.

A courtroom sketch of Malka Leifer at the County Court of Victoria. 
Photo: Mollie McPherson/AAP Image via AP via Times of Israel
A courtroom sketch of Malka Leifer at the County Court of Victoria. Photo: Mollie McPherson/AAP Image via AP via Times of Israel

IN its closing argument before the jury in the trial of Malka Leifer, the prosecution has told jurors the former Adass Israel school principal used her authority and her alleged victims’ ignorance of sexual matters to commit indecent acts on them.

The 56-year-old Israeli mother of eight faces charges including rape, indecent assault and sexual penetration of a child aged 16 or 17 under her care or supervision. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges relating to the three complainants, sisters Elly Sapper, Nicole Meyer and Dassi Erlich.

On Wednesday afternoon, Crown Prosecutor Justin Lewis told the jury, “The Crown asserts that the accused has a tendency to have a sexual interest in girls when they were teenaged students at the school and when those same girls were student teachers at the school, to engage in sexual activities with them, and to take advantage of their vulnerability, ignorance in sexual matters, and her position of authority, in order to do so.”

Lewis told the jury it was “an added piece of evidence you can take into account”.

Summarising in graphic detail the 27 charges against Leifer – relating to acts allegedly committed against the three complainants – Lewis described evidence including Leifer digitally penetrating all three of the girls.

The alleged acts had occurred in a number of places, including Leifer’s home, the Adass school office and library, a camp, and an overnight school trip, the prosecutor stated.

Leifer sat in court, at times with her eyes closed.

Noting each complainant was cross-examined for days, on events dating back many years, Lewis advised the jury to anticipate that Leifer’s defence counsel may tell them that because there have been changes in the complainants’ testimony and “as a result of a number of matters raised in cross-examination, you should reject their allegations”.

“Witnesses are human beings … they are not computers or video recorders. I’m sure that is not news to you. I’m sure you can all think of examples from your own lives in relation to the quirks of memory ,” he told the jury.

“I suggest that nothing in any of that, once understood properly, provides any reason for you to not accept their evidence in relation to the charged acts,” he said.

Lewis will continue his arguments to the jury today before barrister Ian Hill, for Leifer, begins his rebuttal.

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