Malka Leifer, 56, a former principal of a Jewish girls’ school in Australia, was found guilty on Monday of sexually abusing two students.
Three former students, all sisters, had accused Leifer of sexual misconduct.
Leifer was convicted on 18 counts of sexual abuse. She was acquitted on nine other charges, including five that related to one of the sisters, AP reported.
Leifer remained impassive as the verdicts were read. She had pleaded not guilty to all 27 counts.
The three sisters gave evidence over a two-week period behind closed doors, in accordance with rules governing sexual assault trials in Victoria.
Prosecutors said Leifer abused the students between 2003 and 2007 at the Adass Israel School, an ultra-Orthodox school in Melbourne, at her home and at school camps.
Prosecutor Justin Lewis told the court that Leifer took a sexual interest in girls as teenage students and when those same girls became student teachers, the news site reported. Leifer took advantage of their vulnerability, ignorance in sexual matters and her own position of authority, Lewis said.
The defense lawyer, Ian Hill, argued that the delay between the alleged offenses and the trial worked to the disadvantage of the defense and the jurors. He also attempted to undermine the credibility of the sisters.
Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 when allegations of sexual abuse against her first surfaced. She was charged in 2014 and finally brought back to Australia in 2021 following a lengthy extradition process.
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