Former ultra-Orthodox school principal Malka Leifer found guilty of rape

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Malka Leifer, the former principal of a Jewish ultra-Orthodox school in Melbourne, has been found guilty of sexually abusing two former students after a 15-year campaign for her to face justice.

After a six-week trial in the County Court of Victoria, a jury on Monday found Leifer, 56, guilty of charges including rape, indecent assault and sexual penetration of a child aged 16 or 17 against two sisters. But they cleared her of all charges relating to a third sister.

The jury reached the verdict despite not being told about Leifer’s infamous escape to Israel when the allegations of abuse began to emerge in 2008. Her flight overseas sparked a drawn-out extradition process that strained relations between Australia and Israel, but she was ultimately brought back to Victoria in 2021.

Leifer will return to court on April 26 to fix a date for the plea, a pre-sentence hearing where prosecution and defence make legal argument about the appropriate length of her sentence.

Three sources close to the ultra-Orthodox community, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional and social repercussions for speaking with media, confirmed that Leifer has been subject to other allegations of sexual abuse separate to those made by the sisters.

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