Delays, Delays, Delays… Malka Leifer, Judge Lomp Do you Think Her Victims Get to Delay Their Nightmares?

Malka Leifer in court in May 2018.

Court orders new psych report for accused child sex abuser Malka Leifer

Jerusalem The Jerusalem District Court has ruled that a new psychiatric report is needed to assess if former Melbourne school principal Malka Leifer is fit to face an extradition trial over child sex abuse allegations.

Judge Chana Miriam Lomp on Monday presented a distant deadline of December 10 for the new assessment to be filed by three psychiatrists, in order for the court to decide if Leifer is truly mentally unfit, or faking her illness.Now at hearing 57, the case to try and bring the former principal of the Ultra- Orthodox Adass Israel school in Elsternwick in Melbourne’s south-east back to Australia to face 74 charges of rape and child sex abuse has met countless delays.

Judge Lomp in court said the evidence she had seen hadn’t reached a significant benchmark to automatically state that Leifer had been feigning her illness and therefore was fit enough to face justice.

Manny Waks, chief executive officer of the child sex abuse prevention group Kol v’Oz, said after the hearing that the decision was the “worst-case scenario”.

“It leaves the entire case in limbo and it’s just prolonging the pain and suffering to Leifer’s alleged victims,” Waks said.

Dassi Erlich, one of the survivors of Leifer’s alleged abuse who has been fighting to bring Leifer back to Australia for eight years, said the ruling left her feeling defeated.

In five years of court hearings, 30 psychiatrists have already been involved in determining if Leifer is fit to face extradition trial.

“How is this not enough? How many more psychiatrists need to weigh in? How much more emotional pain?,” Erlich said after the hearing.

“We are defeated but we will not give up.”Erlich and her two sisters intended to travel to Israel from Melbourne for the court hearing but cancelled their plans due to the continual and exhausting delays in the justice system.”We’ve decided to push off our trip to Israel and reserve our energy until there is more certainty regarding next steps in this long process,” Erlich announced earlier in the month.

Allegations of child sex abuse were first raised against Leifer in 2008.

The continual delays in court and the findings that Israel’s Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman acted to have medical assessments altered in Leifer’s favour has raised question marks around Israel’s judiciary.

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Malka Leifer – The ONLY Way to Serve Justice for the Abused is to Return Her to Australia – Victims Abused by the System

Demonstration against Malka Leifer outside the Jerusalem District Court

MALKA LEIFER JUDGE: PANEL TO RULE ON ALLEGED PEDOPHILE’S MENTAL STATE

Decisions will stretch out even further legal proceedings to extradite alleged sex offender which have taken nearly six years

Judge Chana Miriam Lomp said that since there has been a considerable of conflicting information and testimony on the case she needed to hear from a new expert panel in order to make a definitive ruling on Leifer’s mental fitness.

A hearing on October 6 in the Jerusalem District Court will determine which psychiatrists will be on the three-member panel.

The panel will be expected to issue its opinion by December 10.

The decision will mean that the legal efforts to extradite Leifer to Australia which have already taken six years will drag on even longer, frustrating Leifer’s alleged victims and activists who have waged a concerted campaign for Leifer to stand trial in Australia.

Leifer is standing trial for extradition on 74 counts of sexual abuse in Australia against sisters Dassi Erlich, Ellie Sapper and Nicole Meyer while she was principal of an ultra-Orthodox school, but has for many years claimed to be mentally unfit for extradition.

Jewish Community Watch stated that it was very disappointed with the judge’s decision to consult with a new expert panel.

“After more than 57 court hearings, the court has pushed off the decision once again and assigned it to yet another group of psychiatrists,” said JCW.

“The real decisions the court has made today is that it wishes to be seen as an international embarrassment instead of a justice system which protects the most vulnerable.

“We continue to support the survivors, who have waited far longer than any victim should have to in order to simply face their alleged abuser in court. Their fight for justice is our fight, and we hope the community will rally around them until such time that Leifer is finally extradited back to Australia.”

Leifer’s lawyer Attorney Yehuda Fried spun the decision as in favor of his client arguing that “the court has determined that the state has not lifted its burden [of proof] and argued that the ruling meant Leifer would not be extradited.

Fried also said that he would petiiton the court to release Leifer from prison where she has been held since she was rearrested in 2018.

Leifer fled Australia to come to Israel in 2008, but legal proceedings against her only began in 2014.

A psychiatric panel ruled on Leifer’s case at the beginning of the legal proceedings against her that she was fit to stand trial for extradition to Australia but a private investigation into her situation in 2017 conducted on behalf of the Jewish Community Watch organization raised severe questions over her supposed psychiatric incapacity to stand trial.

The police subsequently initiated its own investigation and arrested Leifer in 2018 on suspicion of feigning mental illness to avoid extradition.

In May 2017 after a previous hearing in the District Court, private investigator Tzafrir Tzahi who carried out the private investigation into Leifer, said that his team had observed Leifer for two weeks and that her behavior and functioning seemed perfectly normal.

“During the investigation we saw that she was functioning like a normative woman and mother,” said Tzahi.

“She does the shopping, hosts her children on Shabbat, goes to the grocery store, goes to the post office, speaks a lot on the cell phone, laughs, converses with people, nothing that could indicate a problem with her daily functioning,” he continued, adding that they had also witnessed her writing cheques and paying bills.

Tzahi noted that Leifer does not work, but that she occasionally goes to Bnei Brak, alone by public transport, for various arrangements and also to meet one of her children.

He also stated that during the entire two weeks his team had tracked her they had not seen her husband once.

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Israeli Government Sans “Extremists and Extortionists” – Benny Gantz

ULTRA-ORTHODOX LEADERS CONDEMN GANTZ FOR SAYING HE’LL EXCLUDE THEM

Leaders of the ultra-Orthodox political parties have denounced Blue and White chairman MK Benny Gantz for saying he would exclude them from government if he gets the chance to form a coalition.

Speaking on Tuesday night in Beersheva, Gantz said he would form a “liberal unity government,” without “extremists or extortionists,” widely seen as a reference to the ultra-Orthodox and right wing religious-Zionist parties.
United Torah Judaism chairman and deputy health minister MK Yaakov Litzman and senior UTJ leader MK Moshe Gafni said that “the cat was out of the bag” and that Gantz’s efforts to hide his positions regarding the ultra-Orthodox parties had now been exposed.
“After he has tried for a considerable period to conceal his opinions and even did everything to separate himself from his partner Yair Lapid, today it is clear that there is no difference between them,” said Gafni and Litzman in a joint statement to the press.
Even on Tuesday, Shas chairman and interior minister Aryeh Deri said that if Gantz and his fellow party leaders would separate from Yesh Atid and Lapid they could join a right-wing, religious government that might be formed.
But Blue and White has, over the last few weeks, been battered by Avigdor Liberman and his Yisrael Beytenu party for his reticence to underline his commitment to liberal, pluralistic values.
Whereas Blue and White obtained 35 Knessets seats in the April election, it is currently polling between 30 and 31 seats, while Yisrael Beytenu, which took just five seats in the April election, is polling between nine and ten seats.
Yisrael Beytenu rejected Gantz’s comments saying that they were part of a coordinated plan between him and the ultra-Orthodox parties and that the Blue and White leader planned to bring UTJ and Shas into a coalition which Gantz would form if he was positioned to form a government after the election.
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Kol V’Oz – Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in the Global Jewish Community

Special Thanks to the Contributor of this Newsletter

 

Dear Lost Messiah,
I’m delighted to announce that Kol v’Oz has been granted Core Participant status in the forthcoming investigation into the UK Jewish community by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). This means that Kol v’Oz and I will be an active part of the Inquiry and will be able to testify, ask questions of witnesses, make submissions, among other benefits. A public hearing will be held in March 2020.

Those of you who followed the monumental Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse would be aware of the significant positive impact this continues to have both in the broader Australian society and more specifically in the Jewish community. We hope and expect this to also be the case in the UK.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who has been sexually abused within a Jewish institution in the UK to contact IICSA to share your story. Please feel free to contact me as well (or alternatively, if contacting IICSA is an issue). Please also contact me if you have any information regarding cover-ups and/or intimidation within any UK Jewish institution.

Our colleagues at Migdal Emunah have also received Core Participant status – please feel free to contact them as well. We will continue to work together with Migdal Emunah to ensure the Inquiry is well-equipped to investigate the Jewish community properly and to ultimately make appropriate recommendations to ensure justice is achieved for victims/survivors of child sexual abuse and to ensure the safety of our children today and into the future.

Please share the above information with anyone you think may be interested.

Obviously there are costs to participate in the Inquiry – and for our work more broadly – so if you’re in a position to support us financially, please do so by clicking here. There are tax deductible options available in the US and in Israel. We’re currently working on an Australian option as well. Thank you in advance!

As always, I’ve shared below a range of relevant material.

On this Tisha b’Av, I’d like to share a Kinah from a survivor of child sexual abuse.

Warmest,

Manny Waks
Chief Executive Officer

Debbie Wiener is the former Chair of the now-defunct The Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence. This organisation has caused damage to many in the Jewish community. It has recently come to my attention that Debbie is on the board of a new Jewish organisation that deals with another vulnerable group of people. I feel compelled to protect this group by sharing publicly relevant information.
Israel Police has recommended to charge Deputy Health Minister, Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, in the Malka Leifer case. Click: i24YnetThe Jerusalem PostThe Sydney Morning HeraldThe Jewish ChronicleJ-WireThe Australian Jewish News
In response to the latest sexual scandal involving Chabad, I wrote an oped titled Chabad – a law unto itself. Subsequently, there was a further allegation in the same case, which ultimately prompted the Chabad rabbi to resign from his Rabbinic post (but not as director).
Support our work
Some quotes from a 2008 article, soon after Adass purchased plane tickets for Malka Leifer to evade justice immediately after allegations of child sexual abuse were made against her:

[Adass spokesperson Norman] Rosenbaum said it was “categorically just not true” that the school purchased Leifer’s ticket to Israel after she resigned amid still unconfirmed rumours that she behaved inappropriately toward students.

He denied the school had tried to cover up allegations, and said “the school has not yet received any complaints”.

And a quote from a 2017 article:

The group then told Leifer she would be stood down as the head of the Adass school. But then, in a fateful decision, it was agreed that rather than report Leifer to the police, the principal should be spirited out of the country.

Rosenbaum was reportedly a part of the decision-making group.

All those at Adass who were involved in the cover-up in any way must be held to full account – for justice and to ensure the safety of children today.

The one-year look-back window for New York victims and survivors to sue their abusers or the institutions where the abuse took place commences on 14 August 2019. This was part of the New York Child Victims’ Act, which recently came into effect. We are proud to have been part of a broad coalition, over many years, who successfully lobbied for the archaic laws to change – in spite of fierce opposition from the Catholic Church, the ultra-Orthodox community and others. We encourage everyone who feels they can pursue some semblance of justice to do so. Please ensure to obtain proper legal advice. Click here for additional information.
More hypocrisy from David Werdiger…

Werdiger’s ‘thought of the week’ to members of JBD – Jews of the (Melbourne) CBD tells readers of Hasidic teachings about the power of words which can be used to ‘hurt and to deceive’. Werdiger is especially concerned about ’choos(ing) our words even more carefully’ when it comes to social media.

Yet an independent IT report has found that Werdiger, through Objectivewear Pty Ltd, a Company of which he was a Director and Shareholder, was behind the infamous anonymous blog site ‘The Fifth Chelek’ which was highlighted at the Australian Royal Commission for its anonymous attacks against victims of child sexual abuse, their families and supporters. This blog played a key role in the demonisation of victims/survivors and creating the culture that inspired it.

To date, Werdiger has failed to accept responsibility for his involvement with this blog. Nevertheless, he has continued to preach on the Jewish perspective of using words carefully, decried the fact that because of social media ‘things people have written years or decades ago (privately or publicly) are hauled out to haunt them’ and the closest he has come to an apology is ‘acknowledging that there are things that I have said or done in the past that I would not say or do now’. He has also sought to play a leadership role in reshaping the Constitution of the Yeshivah Centre, notwithstanding his role in the events which led to the Royal Commission and the restructuring of the Yeshivah Centre.

And to be clear, this was not Werdiger’s only infraction.

It’s important for victims/survivors to hold to account those who have wronged them, especially when they continue to preach shamelessly. It’s important to us for the public to know that Werdiger, among others, is a hypocrite.

Justice for the Abused, Holding Israeli Minister Accountable for his Complicity and His Complacence

Police call for Israeli minister to stand trial over paedophile case intervention

UTJ head Yaakov Litzman accused of attempting to prevent the extradition of teacher wanted over child molestation charges in Australia

Police in Israel have recommended indicting the country’s deputy health minister for bribery, fraud, witness tampering and breach of trust, with the politician accused of using his influence in the government to prevent the extradition of a child molester.

Yaakov Litzman, who is also chair of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party, is suspected of – among other accusations – standing in the way of former Jewish religious school headteacher Malka Leifer being sent to Australia.

Leifer is wanted on charges of 74 accounts of rape and sexual assault in Melbourne. However, despite being arrested in 2014, attempts to extradite her have been blocked and delayed for multiple reasons.

In a statement, the police said the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit and the National Fraud Investigation Unit said they had gathered enough evidence to put Litzman on trial over his involvement with Leifer, as well as for intervening to improve the conditions for a number of other imprisoned sex offenders.

Litzman was originally questioned by police in February over allegations that he had intervened in a medical assessment over whether Leifer was mentally fit to be deported.

Both Leifer and Litzman belong to the same ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious denomination.

Litzman’s office has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Since the scandal first erupted, the Jewish school that hired Leifer has been ordered to pay more than $1.1m in compensatory damages to the alleged victims.

Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 shortly after the allegations against her were first reported – prior to her arrest she lived in a settlement in the occupied West Bank. She is currently being held in Neve Tirza prison.

Jerusalem District Court is set to hand down a final decision on Leifer’s mental fitness for an extradition hearing on 23 September, according to the Times of Israel.

A report on Israel’s Channel 13 news in May reported that Litzman had helped at least 10 serious sex offenders improve their prison conditions – including securing home visits and other benefits- and applying pressure on state psychiatrists and prisons service officials.

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Systemic Failures in Israel’s Handling of Sex Abuse Cases – Silent Complicity

Child advocates blast systemic failures in Israel’s handling of sex abuse cases

JERUSALEM (JTA) — In April, Israeli police announced the arrest of a 22-year-old man in Beit Shemesh accused of multiple counts of child sexual assault.

Short of celebrating the arrest of an abuser, local victims’ rights advocates took the authorities to task.

Shana Aaronson, head of the Israeli branch of the New York-based Jewish Community Watch organization, took to social media, describing in a Facebook post how authorities and the Beit Shemesh community ignored a disturbing pattern of behavior by the predator in question, who had previously served time for abuse.

“Shortly after he was released” — three years ago, after his first detention — “I started getting The Phone Calls,” she wrote.

“Numerous community members calling to share that he’s hanging out with kids, a lot, and they are very concerned. I encouraged them strongly to warn the parents. But, you know, it’s awkward. No one ever wants to be the killjoy calling up a neighbor to share the lashon hara [prohibited gossip] that the kindly young man who’s taken their kid under his wing is a convicted child molester. Then the next wave of phone calls started. He’s volunteering at local organizations, and using his status there to pick up kids.”

According to Aaronson’s telling, the young man even called her to volunteer at Jewish Community Watch, asking to “mentor children who had been sexually abused.”

The police, she explained to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, knew he was dangerous but were restrained from acting because nobody with firsthand knowledge of the abuse had been willing to come forward. Israel, unlike the United States, does not keep a registry of sex offenders.

As a result, Aaronson wrote, for two years “it seems a community’s worth of people has been watching while a child molester strategically groom[ed] and prey[ed] on his victims.”

“But after all, nobody likes to be a killjoy.”

Israel has see an overall increase in reporting of incidents dating back to the beginning of the decade. But several recent incidents here have highlighted what advocates like Aaronson describe as a systemic failure of both the government and civil society to adequately deal with the issue of child sexual abuse.

In May, the state comptroller’s annual report revealed that 60 percent of Israelis jailed for sexual crimes ended up being released without undergoing any sort of therapeutic treatment to prevent recidivism.

The report also found that there was increased monitoring by police of offenders after their release. And while there were more investigations into incidents of pedophilia than in previous years, seven out of 10 cases ended up being shut down without an indictment.

Some advocates believe that part of the problem may be ingrained in Israel’s political culture. Tough slander laws here make it hard for victims to accuse their abusers publicly. Meanwhile, advocates have said that sentencing guidelines are inadequate. There has also been a strong taboo against reporting abuse among members of haredi Orthodox communities.

According to a recent investigation by Israel’s Channel 13, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was alleged to have improperly intervened to aid at least 10 sex offenders from Israel’s haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, community. This comes after earlier reports that Litzman, who himself is haredi, had been questioned by police over suspicions that he had attempted to prevent the extradition of accused child molester Malka Leifer to Australia.

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By Aiding Sexual Predators, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is a Conspirator, a Predator

(R) Deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman seen during a press conference after meeting with president Reuven Rivlin at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on April 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90); (L) A private investigator tagged Malka Leifer as she spoke on the phone, while sitting on a bench in Bnei Brak, on December 14, 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Police said gearing up to indict minister suspected of aiding alleged pedophiles

 

The Israel Police are gearing up to recommend that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman be indicted for using his office to illicitly provide assistance to alleged sex offenders, according to a report released Friday by the Kan public broadcaster.

Israeli law enforcement intends to indict the United Torah Judaism party chairman in two cases, the report said.

The first case involves Malka Leifer, a former ultra-Orthodox girls’ school principal charged in Australia with 74 counts of child sex abuse. The police announced in February that they were investigating Litzman on suspicion that he pressured employees in his office to change the conclusions of their psychiatric evaluations to deem Leifer unfit for extradition.

In the second one, Litzman is accused of aiding other alleged sexual predators in a manner that was against the law, Kan reported.

Litzman has denied any wrongdoing, maintaining that he responds without prejudice to all pleas for assistance his office receives.

The deputy minister is also being probed in a third case, but the likelihood of him being charged appears slim, according to the public broadcaster. It gave no details on the case.

The police are slate to hand down their decision ahead of the September elections, but their recommendation to indict is expected to be pending a hearing, which would be held after Israelis head to the polls.

Last month, Channel 13 news reported that Litzman helped at least 10 serious sex offenders obtain improved conditions, including home visits and other benefits, by pressuring state psychiatrists and prisons service officials.

In March, Channel 13 news reported that police were investigating suspicions that Litzman and his chief of staff pressured a psychiatrist, Moshe Birger, to ensure that another imprisoned sex offender close to Litzman’s Gur sect was placed in a rehabilitation program. Participation in the program can lead to home visit rights and early release from prison.

Leifer is known to have links to the Gur community, having once taught at a school in Israel affiliated with the branch.

A Justice Ministry official told The Times of Israel in February that police had recordings of Litzman and officials in his office speaking to Health Ministry employees and pressing them to act on Leifer’s behalf.

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