The Age reports that: The former principal of an ultra-Orthodox girls’ school in Melbourne, who fled the country after allegedly sexually abusing her students, could remain in Israel indefinitely with a court ruling she is mentally unfit to face extradition.
Alleged paedophile Malka Leifer will walk free, her home detention in Israel lifted, after Jerusalem District Court judge Amnon Cohen ordered she undergo psychiatric treatment that could go on for years.
Ms Leifer, the former principal of the Adass Israel School in Elsternwick, is wanted by Victoria Police on 74 counts of sexual assault and rape involving girls.
Ms Leifer has mounted the George Pell defence, her lawyers arguing that she experiences panic attacks and bouts of depression as each court hearing for her extradition approaches.
Many of the alleged victims may feel disappointed that the mental state of the alleged paedophile has become the principal reason that she is able to avoid extradition to Australia to face charges.
If it is the thought of travelling that produces the panic attacks then there must be ways of travelling back to Australia that would not induce a panic attack.
It may also be that the extradition processes in Israel represent the first step towards facing the courts in Australia, certainly cause for panic.
Of course, Malka Leifer is depressed and panic stricken. Who wouldn’t be at the prospect of facing 74 counts of sexual assault and rape. Every time someone mentions extradition from now on she’s going to have a panic attack and that, according to Israeli law, will preclude her from travelling back to Australia.
But we should give pause to think what the impact has been on her alleged victims.
Do they suffer panic attacks and depression? Do they have suicidal tendencies? The evidence produced at the Royal Commission would suggest that this is often the case with the victims of paedophiles.
There are people who should be held responsible for this appalling situation. Most particularly, it is those people who did not stop her skipping, or may have abetted in helping her skip, the country when it became clear that she was going to face court charges.
In 2015, the Australian Jewish News confirmed that police were considering laying criminal charges against a former president of the Adass Israel School and a former board member relating to their alleged roles in spiriting Malka Leifer out of Australia seven years ago.
In a civil trial in which the school and Leifer were co-defendants, the Supreme Court of Victoria was told that on the same night (March 6, 2008) as an emergency meeting of the school board was held to discuss the accusations against Leifer, Hadassa Ernst (wife of Adass School board member Mark “Max” Ernst) contacted a travel agent who rapidly arranged for airline tickets, which were paid for by members of the Adass community, enabling the Leifers to depart Australia at 1.20am the following morning.
I had some travel advice for George Pell when he mounted a similar defence. You can find it on my blog Some travel advice for Cardinal Pell.