Malka Leifer found fit for extradition hearing

Malka Leifer found fit for extradition hearing

Ex-principal of Australian Jewish school fled to Israel to dodge sexual abuse charges

JERUSALEM  — An Israeli woman accused of molesting several girls while the principal of a haredi Orthodox girls’ school in Australia has been found mentally competent and fit to undergo an extradition hearing.

Jerusalem’s district psychiatrist submitted two reports on Monday asserting that Malka Leifer, 54, is fit to face a hearing despite her longstanding claim that she suffers from crippling anxiety issues that would prevent her from being tried.

Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 amid allegations that she had sexually abused students at the Adass Yisroel school in Melbourne. She is wanted on 74 charges of child sexual abuse in that city.

Last month she lost an appeal for release to house arrest during extradition proceedings. On the same day, an Australian newspaper quoted an Israeli man as saying she molested his daughter.

Leifer had missed several court appearances by saying she was feeling unwell.

She was arrested in February after an undercover investigation found that she lived a normal life and was mentally fit to face extradition proceedings.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported last month that a resident of Emmanuel, the haredi Orthodox West Bank town where Leifer lives with her husband and 10 children, has alleged that she sexually molested his daughter while tutoring her in religious studies.

The man, identified as Daniel, told the newspaper he saw her touching another girl as well and alleged that she lures children into her apartment by offering them food or to tutor them for free.

Posting Monday on Facebook, Dassi Erlich, one of the students allegedly molested, wrote that her “abuser Malka Leifer has played the court system for 10 years,” adding the hashtag #nomoredelays.