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Two charges against Leifer dropped

Malka Leifer has today been acquitted of two counts of committing an indecent act with a 16 or 17-year-old child.

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

FORMER Adass Israel School principal Malka Leifer will no longer stand trial on two charges, the County Court of Victoria heard this week.

In court on Monday, Leifer was acquitted of two counts of committing an indecent act with a 16 or 17-year-old child. The charges involve allegations Leifer inappropriately touched or kissed one of the complainants, Elly Sapper, ahead of a school play, in December 2006.

Although the legislation on which the two charges against Leifer are based came into law on December 1, 2006, they cannot be applied retroactively, and Judge Mark Gamble told the court the jury would not be able to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged offences occurred on or after that date. The trial of Leifer on the remaining 27 charges will continue.

Sitting in court observing her criminal trial, Leifer, 56, an Israeli mother of eight, faces charges related to sexual abuse of students during her time as Adass principal. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges relating to the three complainants, sisters Elly Sapper, Nicole Meyer and Dassi Erlich.

Israeli social worker Chana Rabinowitz, who had earlier consulted at the Adass school, testified by video she professionally saw Hadassah Sapper (aka Dassi Erlich) in Israel for around six months.

She said that in a “particularly emotional” session in February 2008, “she finally had a deeper sense of what was going on” and that Leifer had acted “in an abusive manner” towards Erlich.

Rabinowitz said Leifer had digitally penetrated Erlich and touched her on various parts of her body, telling her it would help her in a future marriage.

Rabinowitz said her notes of the sessions were lost when her computer stopped working.

Leifer’s barrister Ian Hill put to Rabinowitz that she had refused to be interviewed by Victorian police in 2011 and was not interviewed until 2021. He said, “It’s impossible for you to recollect accurately or precisely what [Erlich] said to you.”

Cleaner Mario Toledo said that in 2006 he saw Leifer at the Adass school on most Sundays, when she was usually in the company of a number of female students, including Meyer and sometimes Sapper.

Toledo said he needed to clean a room, “B5”, on Sundays. “There was one occasion when I opened the door, but she [Leifer] pushed the door shut and told me not to come in,” he said.

Closing arguments started yesterday, with the jury possibly retiring to consider its verdict next week.

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