Israeli court orders evaluation of ex-Melbourne principal accused of sexual abuse

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Jerusalem court has ordered a psychiatric evaluation of the former principal at a Jewish girls’ school in Melbourne who fled Australia amid claims she sexually abused some of her students.

It is the second psychiatric evaluation for Malka Leifer, the former principal of the Adass Israel School in Melbourne, who came to Israel from Australia in 2008.

Leifer, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Emmanuel, was arrested in Israel in 2014 at the request of the Australian government, which has requested her extradition to face 74 charges of sexual abuse of girls at the haredi Orthodox school she once led.

She has avoided previous extradition hearings, claiming stress-induced psychosis, or panic attacks, for which she was admitted to the hospital.

The tight-knit Adass Israel community was founded by Holocaust survivors in the early 1940s. It comprises about 200 haredi Orthodox families.

A new hearing is scheduled for March 20, by which time the re-evaluation by a senior state psychiatrist must be completed.

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