Malka Leifer, Israel S. Ct. Overturns Decision to Release on Bail – Justice at Last?

Malka Leifer is led from the court by a police woman.

Israel’s Supreme Court overturns decision to release alleged paedophile Malka Leifer on bail

Israel’s Supreme Court has overturned a decision to release alleged paedophile Malka Leifer on bail.

Key points:

  • The Supreme Court rejected an order by the Jerusalem District Court to release Malka Leifer to house arrest
  • Victoria Police is attempting to extradite her to Australia to face the child sexual abuse charges
  • Ms Leifer has fought against her extradition on mental health grounds since 2014

Victoria Police is seeking to extradite Ms Leifer to face 74 charges of sexual abuse against students at the Adass Israel Jewish girls school in Melbourne, where she was the principal.

The Supreme Court judge who ruled in their favour, Anat Baron, mentioned concerns during the appeal about Ms Leifer seeking to evade extradition, as she left Australia hours after allegations against her surfaced in 2008.

 

Ms Leifer has been fighting extradition to Australia on mental health grounds since 2014.

The extradition stalled after a court ruled she had a debilitating mental illness and was not fit to be sent to Australia to face charges.

But private investigators commissioned by the group Jewish Community Watch filmed Ms Leifer shopping, socialising and going into Tel Aviv to cash welfare cheques, despite her telling the court she was housebound and catatonic.

That led Israeli police to arrest her on suspicion of obstruction of justice and she was jailed in February 2018, although that particular case against her has not progressed in Israel’s courts.

The country’s Deputy Health Minister, Yaakov Litzman, has also been accused of trying to stop the extradition by pressuring the Jerusalem District Psychiatrist to find Ms Leifer mentally unfit for extradition.

Police have recommended he be indicted for abusing his authority, but he denies any wrongdoing or that he sought to help Ms Leifer because she is from the same Jewish Orthodox sect.

On Thursday (local time), the Supreme Court of Israel rejected an order by the Jerusalem District Court last week to release Ms Leifer from jail to house arrest while her extradition case is underway.

One of Ms Leifer’s alleged victims, Dassi Erlich, welcomed the decision.

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Jewish “Alleged” Pedophiles, Israel Might Be Your Land of Milk and Honey… Malka Leifer Granted House Arrest

Malka Leifer, a former Australian school principal who is wanted in Australia on suspicion of sexual

ALLEGED PEDOPHILE MALKA LEIFER SENT TO HOUSE ARREST PENDING MENTAL EVALUATION

Leifer is standing trial for extradition to Australia on 74 counts of sexual abuse against sisters Dassi Erlich, Ellie Sapper and Nicole Meyer while she was principal of an ultra-Orthodox school.

Alleged sex offender Malka Leifer will be released to house arrest on Friday, the Jerusalem District Court ruled on Wednesday.

Following a decision last month by Judge Chana Miriam Lomp – who is presiding over the case – to appoint a new panel of psychiatric experts to evaluate Leifer’s mental fitness to stand extradition trial, Leifer’s lawyers appealed for her to be released from prison to house arrest.
Judge Ram Winograd, presiding over the house-arrest petition, acquiesced to that request on Wednesday, and Leifer will be released to her house in Bnei Brak with her sister.
The prosecution has until Friday to appeal the decision.
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. She has claimed for many years to be mentally unfit for extradition.
Leifer fled Australia to Israel in 2008, but legal proceedings against her only began in 2014.
A hearing on October 6 at the Jerusalem District Court will determine which psychiatrists will be on the three-member panel to decide whether she is mentally fit for extradition. The panel will be expected to issue its opinion by December 10.
“We are bitterly disappointed that Malka Leifer has been granted bail and is being released to house arrest,” said Jewish Community Watch, whose private investigation restarted legal proceedings against Leifer in 2018. “It’s impossible to understand how Leifer, who has already proved herself to be a flight risk, contemptuous of the justice system and a risk to children, would be allowed to leave prison.”
Leifer’s defense team has made it clear that their tactic is to drag out the proceedings for as long as possible, and the court appears to be allowing them to do so.
“I am deeply shocked and astounded that someone who is well enough to [be released to] house arrest isn’t well enough to go on a plane,” said one of Leifer’s alleged victims, Nicole Meyer. “I am hurt by the State of Israel.”
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ADDITIONAL READING ON LEIFER’S HOUSE ARREST:

Accused paedophile principal Malka Leifer on bail in Israel

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RELATED STORY: Israeli court delays Australian alleged paedophile teacher’s extradition
RELATED STORY: Malka Leifer’s team rallies to prevent extradition to Australia over child sex assault charges
RELATED STORY: ‘We didn’t question it’: Why a school headmistress allegedly preyed on girls

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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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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