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Malka Leifer sentenced to 15 years for sexual abuse

"This is a great moment. I am grateful that the justice system recognized Malka Leifer's abuse," said one of the victims.

Malka Leifer at the District Court in Jerusalem, Feb. 14, 2018. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Malka Leifer at the District Court in Jerusalem, Feb. 14, 2018. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

An Australian court sentenced ultra-Orthodox school principal Malka Leifer to 15 years in prison on Thursday for sexually abusing two of her students, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper.

Judge Mark Gamble said the two girls “were completely innocent victims of Leifer’s predatory behavior. She and she alone should feel guilty.”

Sapper welcomed the decision, saying, “This is a great moment. I am grateful that the justice system recognized Malka Leifer’s abuse. Trauma from sexual abuse is a life sentence, but it is a relief that Malka Leifer is in prison.”

Leifer, 56, a former principal of a Jewish girls’ school in Australia, was convicted on 18 counts of sexual abuse in April.

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.

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.

Leifer, who claimed that she was mentally unfit to stand trial and suffers from mental illness, had denied all allegations against her since returning to Australia.

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