How did the Adass Israel School in Melbourne, Australia find out in 2008 that its principal, Malka Leifer, was allegedly sexually abusing and raping female students? And why and how did Leifer flee? Like this, it seems.
Above: Malka Leifer
How did the Adass Israel School in Melbourne, Australia find out in 2008 that its principal, Malka Leifer, was allegedly sexually abusing and raping female students?
From what I've been told, it happened like this:
1. One of Leifer's alleged victims left Melbourne and was living in Israel after her recent marriage.
2. That victim was have marital difficulties – a common occurrence, by the way, for victims of abuse – and went to a psychologist there, Chana Rabinovitch (spelling?), for help.
3. In one of her therapy sessions, the alleged victim told Rabinovitch about her (alleged) abuse by Leifer at the Adass School in Melbourne.
4. Rabinovitch called her friend Vicky Gordon, a therapist in Melbourne, and told her what Leifer had allegedly done.
5. Gordon – the daughter of Israel "Izzy" Herzog, who was then the president of Adass – told her father Izzy Herzog about the alleged abuse.
6. Herzog allegedly went to Rabbi Avrohom Zvi Beck, a Vizhnitzer hasid who is the chief rabbi of the Adass Israel community in Melbourne, and told him about the alleged abuse.
7. Beck allegedly did nothing to stop Leifer or protect students.
8. Gordon quickly finds out that Leifer is still teaching in the school and tells her father that she will call police and report Leifer unless Adass deals with her immediately.
9. An emergency board meeting is held that night in Izzy Herzog's house. Ten people are there, including the three-man beit din and Beck.
10. The beit din was ad hoc, made up of Rabbi Binyamin Wurtzberger (whose wife got Leifer the job at Adass), Rabbi Yisroel Katz, and Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Telsner, the chief rabbi of Chabad's Yeshivah Centre. Telsener was asked to join the beit din as a favor so there would be three rabbis with dayanut (i.e., who are also religious court judges who can judge dinei mamanot, money issues) there.
11. Leifer maintained her innocence and refused to leave.
12. But the next day, Adass members arranged for Leifer's and her whole family's immediate travel to Israel and Leifer flees Australia – apparently because of Gordon's threat to call police.
13. After Leifer was safely in Israel, Adass' attorney, Norman Rosenbaum – a Chabad hasid whose brother, Yankel Rosenbaum, was stabbed to death during the Crown Heights riots in August 1991 – called authorities in Melbourne to report the abuse on behalf of Adass.
14. Six years later, Australia is trying to extradite Lefier so she can be put on trial for a string of alleged rapes and sexual abuse allegedly committed against a string of Adass students. One victim sued Leifer civilly. That trial is ongoing.