A long-developing case involving sexual assault in a Melbourne school has taken a significant turn, as Malka Leifer, the former head of a school for girls, has been found eligible for extradition from Israel to Australia. The process of securing extradition has spanned years. Leifer is accused of 74 counts of sexual assault, which allegedly took place during her tenure at the Adass Israel Girls School.
The Sydney Morning Herald, alongside The Associated Press, reported that the recent decision by an Israeli court follows years of contrasting rulings and an undercover investigation. The extradition process began in 2013, though Leifer initially fled Australia in 2008, when she was first accused. The school privately paid out a claim in 2015 to Leifer's alleged victims, with the damages totaling over $1 million.
The news source explained the case for extradition hit a setback in 2016. A judge in Israel ruled that Leifer could not be extradited due to her supposed mental unfitness to stand trial. However, the case took another turn in February of 2019. Police conducted an investigation of the defendant's mental impairment claims and discovered that she was living normally, having allegedly falsified the issues that led to her circumvention of extradition in 2016. The Guardian noted that the re-arrest came after a private investigator captured video evidence of Leifer's normal lifestyle.
Following the latest verdict, individuals and groups in both Israel and Australia have released statements celebrating the decision, according to the Guardian, though there will likely be another appeal to the ruling. The process of seeking Leifer's extradition has been so extended and tense that it has damaged international relations between Israel and Australia, with the AP reporting that the matter was raised – and became somewhat contentious – at a face-to-face meeting between Premier Daniel Andrews and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
If you or one of your loved ones has suffered sexual abuse, it can be a difficult and complex process to have the claim upheld. Expert assistance may help you in the pursuit of justice, ensuring you have access to the evidence that will support your claim and making legal arguments that meet requirements. Starting a civil case on the basis of sexual assault has a statute of limitations of three years if the abuse took place when the victim was an adult, though there is no statute of limitations for claims regarding child sexual abuse.
When you speak with a specialist lawyer with Gerard Malouf & Partners, you can learn if your case is likely to succeed and find out what the next steps are to bring the matter forward.