Melbourne Jewish school goes on trial over ex-principal’s alleged abuse


A former student at a Jewish girls’ school in Melbourne testified in a civil suit that she was suicidal after she was sexually abused by the principal at the time.

The student, now 27, sued the Adass Israel school over the alleged abuse by Malka Leifer, who fled to Israel in 2008 some 24 hours after the  accusations that she molested students became public. Leifer, who lived in the haredi Orthodox West Bank settlement of Emanuel until her arrest, is awaiting extradition.

The court heard on Wednesday, a day after the trial began, that the abuse started in 2002, when the student was 15, the Age reported. The student said that along with feeling suicidal, the abuse spurred flashbacks, nightmares, persistent depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

The alleged victim said she was too scared to speak up about the abuse because of Leifer’s powerful position in the community.

Leifer, a mother of eight, ran the haredi Orthodox Adass Israel school from 2001 to 2008, until she was fired amid the abuse accusations. She denies any wrongdoing.

The Adass Israel community is made up of about 150 families.