Former Adass Israel School principal Malka Leifer has been handed a 15-year jail term for 18 sexual offences. Leifer will not be eligible for parole until June 2029. Leifer, who was the principal of the school in Melbourne, was found guilty of sexually abusing two students in her care. The offences occurred between 2003 and 2007, with the victims claiming that Leifer isolated and sexually abused them on campus, at school camps, and in her home.
The sentencing took place in the Victorian County Court, where Judge Mark Gamble described the offending as extended, insidious, and predatory, targeting vulnerable victims. He stated that the offences were committed solely for Leifer’s own sexual gratification and had a devastating impact on each victim. The judge emphasized that there were no mitigating factors in the manner in which Leifer committed the offences, indicating a high level of moral culpability.
After taking into account the 2,069 days of pre-sentence detention, Leifer will be eligible for parole in June 2029. The three sisters who came forward to accuse Leifer expressed relief at the sentence and described it as a victory for victim-survivors navigating the justice system. They emphasized that the trauma from sexual abuse is a lifelong sentence and hoped that Leifer’s imprisonment would prevent her from preying on anyone else.
The quest for justice took 16 years for the sisters, with Leifer fleeing to Israel after the abuse allegations were brought to light. The case was reopened after damning undercover footage surfaced, leading to Leifer’s extradition to Australia. In February 2023, she stood trial and was found guilty of multiple sexual offences.
The victims grew up in a loveless and abusive home environment, and the Adass Israel School became a “safe haven” for them. Leifer took advantage of her position as the school’s head of religious studies to prey on their vulnerability. The sentencing judge described Leifer’s actions as a serious breach of trust and an aggravating feature of the offences.
Throughout the proceedings, Leifer exaggerated her mental health issues and showed no remorse. However, the judge acknowledged the hardships she faced in custody as mitigating factors in her sentence. The sisters expressed gratitude that Leifer would no longer have the opportunity to harm others and praised the justice system for holding her accountable.