A VICTORIA Police investigation into the assistance given by members of the Adass community in Malka Leifer’s hasty exit from Australia in 2008 was suspended during her criminal trial and has now been resumed, according to a senior police official.
The AJN has seen a response from police after approaches to have the probe reopened.
The plea to police was jointly made by former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu, an outspoken advocate for Dassi Erlich, Elly Sapper and Nicole Meyer, the three complainants in this year’s criminal trial of Leifer, and Philip Dalidakis, a former state government minister, now chair of VoiCSA, a Jewish advocacy group for sex abuse victims.
On May 29, Inspector Scott Johnson – deputy chief of staff to chief police commissioner Shane Patton – responded to a letter to the commissioner by Baillieu and Dalidakis, advising the probe has recommenced.
In their April 30 letter, Dalidakis and Baillieu had noted police had said they would not investigate the circumstances of Leifer’s departure from Australia until after her extradition and criminal trial.
“Those same parties were then astounded when within 24 hours of the verdicts being declared, Victoria Police announced that there would be no further investigation of the board, the board’s decision-making or that of the school,” they wrote. “That announcement has been the source of enormous disappointment across the community. To be frank, those who have been following this case closely have been stunned.
“There is a significant and worrying trail of evidence that demands investigation by police. Further, it is apparent that the school and the broader community still may not understand the significance of the criminal behaviour that took place [and] the obligations of mandatory reporting of such allegations.”
The letter stated that the way Adass had dealt with the matter was an “utterly inadequate response and represents a failure to act”.
Baillieu and Dalidakis urged police to consider that a 2015 civil trial “found comprehensively against both Mrs Leifer and the school”. They said the Victorian Supreme Court proceeding eight years ago “sets out a number of facts that provide a strong case to support charges against those involved”.
The pair listed multiple Jewish communal figures with ties to Adass – some now deceased – who they claim were involved in planning Leifer’s departure from Australia in 2008.
Contacted by The AJN on Monday, Baillieu said police announcing the resumption of the investigation was “a very important step”. He said Erlich, Sapper and Meyer are owed a further investigation of the 2008 Adass board’s activities, “as are the broader community”.
He said he would also like to see a wider probe, possibly conducted by Australian Federal Police, into Australian involvement in attempts to delay Leifer’s extradition.
The extended investigation should also focus on the “inappropriate intrusion” of then Israeli health minister Yaakov Litzman, said Baillieu. (Litzman resigned from the Knesset last year as part of a plea agreement in which he admitted criminally obstructing Leifer’s extradition.)
Dalidakis told The AJN on Monday, “The people that helped Malka Leifer, a now convicted sex predator, to flee in the middle of the night before charges could be laid, deserve everything coming their way, including sleepless nights waiting for Victoria Police to knock on their door.
“Their actions resulted in 15 additional years of needless distress and duress for those young women who were abused and taken advantage of. And they assisted a sexual predator to move offshore, where she was free to continue offending and live a normal life.”
Adass Israel School principal Aaron Strasser told media 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.”