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Another historical child sexual abuse case in Melbourne’s Orthodox community reaches court

Michael Visontay
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Published: 25 July 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

As the Leifer trial draws to a close, Velvel Serebryanski has been charged in a separate case with offences dating back to the 1980s.

A man extradited from New York has been charged in a Melbourne court with four sexual abuse offences against a member of the Jewish community in St Kilda in the 1980s.

Velvel Serebryanski, 59, who was arrested in New York in April, was extradited back to Australia on Wednesday and appeared in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, according to a statement by Victorian police.

He was charged with three counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual penetration of a child over 12 and under 16, and been bailed to face court again on September 15.

On Friday, Malka Leifer also faced a Melbourne court for a pre-sentence hearing, in which Justice Mark Gamble set her sentencing date for August 24.

Leifer’s barrister, Ian Hill KC, told the court her time in home detention was punitive, saying she was confined to a space away from her husband and children. Prosecutor Justin Lewis argued Leifer feigned mental illness to avoid extradition from Israel to Australia, so the weight the judge put on her more than 600 days in home detention should be diminished.

A jury convicted Leifer of 18 offences against sisters Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper in April.

Justice Gamble said he expected Leifer's sentence would take him a lengthy amount of time to hand down.

Photo: Melbourne's Yeshiva Centre, where abuse is alleged to have occurred.

About the author

Michael Visontay

Michael Visontay is the Commissioning Editor of TJI. He has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 30 years. Michael is the author of several books, including Who Gave You Permission?, co-authored with child sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks, and Welcome to Wanderland: Western Sydney Wanderers and the Pride of the West.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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