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Leifer sentencing process to start in June

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Published: 27 April 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Former ultra-Orthodox Jewish principal and now convicted sex offender Malka Leifer will face a pre-sentence hearing in June.

The 56-year-old mother of eight was found guilty of 18 charges relating to the sexual abuse of two Melbourne sisters, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper, when they were students and student teachers at Adass Israel School.

Leifer was head of religion and principal of the school.

Jurors handed down their verdicts after a two-month trial in the Victorian County Court. She was acquitted of nine charges, including five involving the siblings' older sister Nicole Meyer.

The 18 charges for which she was found guilty include rape, indecent assault and sexual penetration of a child aged 16 or 17.

Leifer faced a procedural hearing via videolink from prison on Wednesday.

Judge Mark Gamble set a timetable for her pre-sentence hearing, to run for two days from June 28.

He said there were significant matters he wanted address ed by prosecutor Justin Lewis and Leifer's defence barrister Ian Hill KC in the hearing, including details of time Leifer spent in police or correctional custody in Israel.

That includes time in "quasi-custody" such as home detention, he said.

Abuse allegations were first raised with the Adass Israel School board in 2008 and Leifer was stood down.

Within days she fled to Israel. She was charged in 2014 and spent years fighting extradition to Australia, which was granted in early 2020.

Ms Meyer, Ms Erlich and Ms Sapper were in court for Wednesday's hearing.

They said the verdicts marked a time to start looking forward.

"The sentence will protect her from hurting others, but she has been found guilty - the whole world will know that now," Ms Meyer said.

Lawyers have until June 5 to file written submissions on sentencing.

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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