Rivlin pledges to help extradite alleged pedophile Leifer to Australia

"We were very confused about it all, and we hope that [things] will move along a lot faster,” one of the victims said Wednesday.

Nicole Meyer, an alleged victim of former school principal Malka Leifer, at the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday ahead of a hearing in the six-year old case (photo credit: JEREMY SHARON)
Nicole Meyer, an alleged victim of former school principal Malka Leifer, at the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday ahead of a hearing in the six-year old case
(photo credit: JEREMY SHARON)
President Reuven Rivlin told Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison that he will personally convey to Israeli authorities the importance of extraditing alleged pedophile Malka Leifer to Australia.
“We are responsible for handling this matter in an organized and efficient way,” the president said on Tuesday. “The State of Israel will not allow anyone to use it to evade the law.”
Rivlin clarified that he is in contact with the authorities dealing with the case in Israel and gave the prime minister the document he had received from the Israeli authorities before departing on his official visit to Australia. He noted that Israel is governed by the rule of law, and that he will continue to monitor the case when he returns to Israel.
Rivlin added that he understands the feelings of the Australian authorities and of the Jewish community, and will convey them to the relevant authorities in Israel.
Leifer, who was the principal at the ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel School in Melbourne from 2003 to 2008, fled to Israel in 2008 after allegations that she sexually abused school pupils came to light. She has evaded deportation back to Australia ever since a formal request was received by Israel in 2014 by claiming to be mentally ill.
Rivlin’s meeting took place on the same day that Nicole Meyer, one of Malka Leifer’s alleged victims, expressed frustration and surprise with the accommodating attitude of Judge Chana Miriam Lomp toward Leifer’s defense attorneys and their various legal and scheduling demands.
Speaking to the press at the Jerusalem District Court before a closed-door court hearing, Meyer also noted that she and her two sisters, who were allegedly subjected to sexual abuse and rape by Leifer, are in weekly therapy due to the ongoing trauma of the tortuous legal proceedings against their former teacher.
“My sisters and I were supposed to travel to Israel in September, but because of our mental health because of this case, we decided not to come – so it is definitely taking a huge toll,” said Meyer on Wednesday morning.
“All of us are in therapy weekly, more than once, and trying our best to heal. But at the same time, this protracted process is not allowing us to heal. That’s what keeps making it current in our lives, giving us trauma all over again, time and time again.”
Meyer was also asked about the recent decision by Lomp to allow Leifer’s defense attorneys to bring testimony from private psychiatrists, who have previously testified in court, about the decision of a three-member expert panel of state psychiatrists who established in January that Leifer had been feigning mental illness to avoid extradition and was mentally fit for trial.
Meyer said that she and her sisters had found the judge’s decision incomprehensible.
“That filled us with a huge amount of frustration, and we were wondering what on earth is happening here. None of it made sense, we were very confused about it all, and we hope that [things] will move along a lot faster,” she said.
“It’s hard to think that the system has continued the way it has with so many court dates and so many delays, but unfortunately that is the way it is and I hope it will not continue any longer.”
Asked about Lomp’s decision in early January to accommodate the various scheduling requests of Leifer’s defense attorneys, including their participation in legal conferences abroad and a “family day” of one of the attorneys, Meyer said that she had been surprised by the judge’s leniency in a case which is in its sixth year.
“If one defense attorney is not available, then just bring another one and continue the court process,” Meyer said. “I don’t know why it works like that in Israel. I definitely think in Australia it wouldn’t be like that, but I don’t have the power to do anything about it. I have to wait for closure to come.”
She said that she had left her four children back at home in Australia because she felt it was important that the judge see her in court to understand that “every single day since we gave our statements nine years ago has been the day that we’ve been waiting for closure.”
Head of the Kol v’Oz anti-abuse organization, Manny Waks, said that the more than 60 hearings in the Leifer case was “an indication of incompetence of the way this court and judicial system has dealt with the case.”
Waks also described Lomp’s decision to allow the private psychiatrists to testify at the request of the defense attorneys as “absurd,” and “bewildering,” and said it indicated that “there seems to be a deep-rooted issue in this case that needs to be looked at more closely.”
“Three years since we began the campaign, I felt it was important to fly in for these hearings and not just be a name on paper waiting for closure. I want justice, and we want it now,” Meyer demanded.
In reference to testimony from private psychiatrists:
When Leifer’s lawyer Yehuda Fried said he had a “family day” during the hearing and asked to reschedule the new hearings, Meyer said she and her sisters could not understand why the judge was taking this into consideration, given the fact that the case has already stretched out for six years.
Maayan Hoffman contributed to this report.