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Malka Leifer has been abstaining from justice in Israel for more than a decade, ever since her arrest in 2014. Since then she has battled extradition to Australia with delays and claims of ill health.
After being arrested a second time, a state psychiatrist determined she was mentally fit to stand trial. However, shortly afterwards he revised his opinion and wrote another one casting doubt upon earlier psychiatric evaluations.
On Friday morning, three alleged victims of Malka Leifer - the former Melbourne school principal accused of 74 counts of child sexual abuse - appeared at a court hearing via video link. Their ordeal has been described as "bruising," yet their relief comes at the end of an extended battle to extradite her back home.
They testified in closed court at Melbourne's Magistrates Court to back a committal notice that the former headmistress will face trial for child sexual abuse. Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper grew up in an ultra-Orthodox community where they were not allowed to discuss their sexual abuse experiences.
Prosecutor Justin Lewis told the jury that Leifer physically and verbally abused each girl. She would show them she loved them like a daughter and hold them like babies on multiple occasions; additionally, she had raped one student at school and used a sex toy on another.
But she also destroyed their trust, showing them they were nothing more than toys. According to the prosecutor, Leifer's mother verbally and physically abusive her two alleged victims while they spoke about what was going on, it would be wrong if they shared what was going on with anyone.
Mr Lewis reported that when one of the sisters tried to form a friendship with a teacher at her school in order to explore whether it was normal, Leifer became jealous and ended the relationship. She also requested the sisters stay over for kallah lessons - pre-wedding etiquette classes which include sexual education - which ended up being cancelled.
These incidents occurred at Leifer's home in Elsternwick, where she offered private lessons to the students and during visits to her office at Adass Israel Girls School. It is alleged that one student was raped during an outing and another sexually assaulted inside the office.
But it will be the testimony of the alleged victims that is most critical for the jury to weigh in on. It provides them with an insight into what life was like for these kids as children, and what they experienced throughout their relationships with Leifer.
Malka Leifer, the former principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls school in Melbourne, is facing trial on sexual abuse allegations. Ms Leifer, 55, fled to Israel but was extradited earlier this year after a protracted legal battle.
Prosecutor Justin Lewis asserts that Ms Leifer took her charges under her wing and exploited their trust to sexually abuse them over several years. These girls were shielded from the world, only learning about sexual activity within the home environment, according to prosecutor Lewis.
He claimed the victims had a troubled home life and Mrs Leifer took them in and abused them, often for money or jobs at her school. She allegedly told them she loved them, had an intimate relationship with them, and served as their protector by touching them, rubbing their thighs and fondling their breasts beneath her bra.
Ms Leifer's defence lawyer Ian Hill KC stated that her client denied the crimes alleged by the complainants. He maintained that these accusations were "factual errors, imagined events and/or fabrication."
Dassi Erlich, another accused woman, testified that she felt so ashamed she could not physically perform physical acts. She expressed fear that abuse would come to light within the Jewish community where she lived and that she might be placed into foster care or prison.
Nicole Meyer, a former student and teacher at the Adass Israel school in Elsternwick, testified before the court about her abuse while there. She claimed it occurred both at school and home, as well as during a camp before she got married.
Mr Lewis reported that Ms Leifer had her favorite students whom she treated differently. She would invite some of them into her office for private conversations or meet at her home, then kiss, cuddle and tell them they were her daughters.
Ms Leifer is accused of rape, sexual penetration of a child aged 16 or 17 and indecent assault. If found guilty, she could face up to seven years in jail; however, she has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
At the Malka Leifer trial, a prosecutor informed the jury about the ultra-Orthodox community where three alleged victims lived. They did not have access to television, newspapers or the internet and had little education about sexual behavior.
Prosecutor Justin Lewis noted Leifer's tendency to "take advantage of her girls' vulnerability and ignorance in sexual matters". She also had a powerful sense of authority over them as principal at the school, according to Lewis.
Mr Lewis further reported that at 16 Ms Erlich began attending private lessons at Mrs Leifer's home, where she was instructed on Jewish morals and how Jewish girls should act. She was frequently rub on her thigh and inside her skirt while being asked about what was going on in her life; furthermore, she wasn't allowed out until Mrs Leifer left for work before being allowed to leave her house.
She felt so ashamed that she couldn't physically express what was going on. She didn't know if she was a bad person or not, but she feared being judged if someone found out what had been going on.
Ms Meyer was allegedly abused at a school camp where she shared a room with her sister and Leifer, according to the prosecution. Her teacher woke her up when she thought she was asleep and proceeded to physically touch her, they claimed.
He testified to the jury that Ms Meyer was unaware of what was taking place and felt scared and uncomfortable when touched. She had no understanding of sex or why it was happening, according to the prosecution. Additionally, she did not want to discuss it with her family members for fear of what would happen if she spoke up about what had occurred.
Defence attorney Ian Hill also informed the jury that some of the evidence presented was circumstantial. He noted that while government had collected both direct and circumstantial proof, it was up to them to decide what evidence they deemed important.
At the trial of Malka Leifer, it is claimed that her alleged victim felt so ashamed she couldn't physically testify.
At trial, Nicole Meyer, a former student who had been sexually assaulted by Leifer, described to the court how humiliated and helpless she felt to resist his advances. Additionally, Meyer was terrified to tell her parents--stern and strict Jews--of what had happened.
Lewis testified to the jury that Leifer treated her favourite girls as her favorites and would arrange time alone with them in her home. Additionally, she would ask them to complete tasks for her like tidying their room. Furthermore, she would invite them over for sleepovers at her place or during school camps where Leifer would fondle them on her couch.
Lewis testified to the court that she would become jealous if one of the girls got close to another teacher, and Leifer often invited the girls over for meals or a night of partying at her home.
After one year, Lewis became increasingly worried about the behaviour of one of her students, she testified in court. She stated that the girl attempted to form a relationship with another teacher and was asked to perform sexual acts on her. Her teacher issued a warning shortly thereafter.
The prosecution further alleges that Leifer abusing another of her sisters, Dassi Erlich, while she was still a student at her school and that she sexually assaulted Elly Sapper while sleeping on a school camp. It is alleged she told Dassi this would help prepare her for her wedding night.
Leifer's lawyer Nick Kaufman expressed concern about the amount of media attention given to her case, leading to a diminished chance for a fair trial. He expressed dissatisfaction with how it was being prosecuted and expressed worry Ms Leifer may be prevented from practicing her religious rights in an Australian prison.
On Tuesday, the court heard that Leifer's defence team had requested extra time to review new evidence. According to reports compiled by a mental health expert, she was mentally fit for trial but the Israeli court had determined otherwise.
On Sunday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised past the Toronto Raptors 118-93 thanks to Donovan Mitchell's 35 points. He made eight three-pointers and added six rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes of play.
This season, the Louisville native has been an unstoppable force in the NBA, earning himself spots on both MVP and All-NBA First Team lists. Now he finds himself squarely in the middle of an Eastern Conference battle with Cleveland hoping to avenge their series loss to Toronto Raptors and reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2018.
On Sunday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers easily defeated the Toronto Raptors 118-93. This victory snapped their three-game losing streak and kept them in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Mitchell scored 35 points, shooting 13-of-21 from the field (including 8-of-12 from 3-point range). In addition, he had six rebounds, four assists and three steals in 31 minutes of play.
He struggled in the first quarter, but came alive for 22 points in the second. He made several impressive drives to the basket, rejecting screens and creating space for teammates to get to the rim. Plus, he even launched off of his left leg for a floater flush!
Here are a few lessons I am taking away from this game:
On Sunday, Mitchell played like he was unguardable. From the perimeter to the paint, no one on the Raptors roster had a chance to stay in front of him.
At halftime, the Cavaliers led 58-56. Heading into the third quarter, they held a commanding 68-55 advantage. Beginning with Ricky Rubio's steal and ending with Mitchell's 3-pointer, Virginia started off strong in this quarter with an 8-0 run that culminated in another victory.
After the third, Cleveland controlled the rest of the game. In the fourth, Garland's layup following a Rubio steal capped an 11-0 run that gave Cleveland a commanding 105-78 lead with 8:47 remaining.
Finally, Bickerstaff's use of an eight-man rotation is indicative of how serious the Cavaliers are about playoff basketball. He introduced Danny Green with 5:46 remaining in the fourth quarter and later brought in Lamar Stevens, Robin Lopez and Dean Wade to make up his substitutions.
Though it's too soon to predict if this trend will continue in the playoffs, it gives an indication of Bickerstaff's plans for his roster when traveling away.
The Cavaliers boast an impressive roster, boasting a wealth of talent and depth. However, there remain some unanswered questions that need to be addressed.
On Sunday night, Donovan Mitchell scored a game-high 35 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers destroyed the Toronto Raptors 118-93. He shot 22 of 34 from the field, including 8-of-12 from three-point range, in an incredible performance that broke his previous career high of 71 points set last season.
Mitchell can be almost unguardable when he's playing at his best. His agility in and out of the paint made it a real nightmare for Toronto's defense to contain. Mitchell took advantage of teammates on the open court, slicing through help defenders and scoring from anywhere on the floor.
Mitchell is a menace on the glass, scoring eight rebounds in just 15 minutes to be part of the reason why Toronto couldn't get their offense going early.
Despite a slow start, the Raptors managed to stay in the game by outscoring Cleveland 29-19 in the second quarter and taking an 11-point lead at halftime - their largest lead of the game. However, that wasn't enough to prevent Cleveland from taking control of proceedings.
After a strong first half, the Raptors cut their lead to seven in the third quarter. But the Cavaliers used an 11-0 run highlighted by Darius Garland's layup to open the fourth quarter and extend their lead by 23.
In the third, Cleveland was able to capitalize on its chances when in transition. Toronto struggled to defend the ball well during this period, particularly on live rebounds.
This was a marked improvement from their previous few games when they were getting burned in that area. Not only were the Cavaliers able to contain the Raptors on that end, but they were also able to make some great shots off turnovers as well.
Although it may not be an everyday occurrence, this is certainly a positive indication for how the Cavaliers are building their rotation heading into playoffs. Coach Bickerstaff has often advocated for giving fresh bodies a chance to play as he searches for depth and rotation pieces.
On Monday night, Mitchell hit 7-of-15 three-pointers - including one with 3.0 seconds left in overtime that tied the game and sent it into extra time. His 71 points set a franchise record for an individual player and put him among legends such as Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant in terms of scoring ability.
At halftime, the Cavaliers trailed by 21 points but came back to take an advantage in the third quarter. Mitchell was once again on fire, scoring 24 points along with five rebounds and two assists for a double-double.
These are impressive numbers, but the Cavs needed much more from him on this night. He made 5 of 16 shots from the field and 0 of 6 from 3-point range in the first half alone.
In the second half, he scored 42 points and played an integral role in forcing overtime. In that extra session, he scored 13 of his 35 points and made some key plays that sealed victory for New Orleans.
That shot he hit with three seconds left in overtime is still an amazing feat, especially given how exhausted he was by the end of regulation. It seemed impossible but he managed to make it happen and also got two free throws as his team came from behind and won the game.
He finished with an estimated plus/minus rating of +5.1, ranking him 15th most efficient player in the NBA. Furthermore, his rim percentage and midrange shooting percentage both reached career highs at 66% and 46%, respectively.
On a rare night for an All-Star who had struggled from the field recently, Cleveland Cavaliers star J.R. Smith delivered an exceptional performance - exactly what their team needed as they strive to claw their way back into the playoff picture.
Mitchell had a slow start, so the Cavaliers needed his big playmaking and toughness to help them overcome their early deficits. His performance was an integral factor in why the Cavaliers finally pulled away for victory and snapped their five-game losing streak.
Mitchell had been struggling for the last few games, but he made a major comeback on Monday to lead the Cavaliers to a thrilling 145-134 victory against the Chicago Bulls. With 71 points - his highest single game total since LeBron James scored 81 in 2006 - Mitchell cemented himself as one of NBA history's great players.
On Sunday, Donovan Mitchell scored 35 points on 13 of 21 shooting and made a career-high eight 3-pointers as the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised to an easy 118-93 win against Toronto Raptors. Additionally, he grabbed six rebounds and had four assists in just 31 minutes as the Cavs snapped their three-game losing streak.
After a challenging start to the season, 23-year-old Mitchell is on track to achieve success during his first full season with the Cavaliers. He leads the team in scoring with 21.9 points per game and looks like breaking the franchise's single-season 3-point record.
Though not quite at the level of the Boston Celtics, the Cavaliers remain an intriguing team to follow. They boast a talented group of young players led by All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love; plus Ricky Rubio - who has won 15 games this season - as well as All-Star point guard Mitchell. While not quite at that level yet, this squad offers plenty to be excited about.
The Cavaliers started slowly but found their rhythm in the second quarter, taking a 64-52 lead at halftime. Following Toronto's 17-0 run to open the third quarter, Cleveland built up an even larger lead early in the fourth. Garland's layup following Ricky Rubio's steal capped an 11-0 run that gave them a 105-78 advantage with 8:47 remaining and gave them another 29 points on Allen with 6:51 remaining.
Meanwhile, the Raptors were outscored 29-19 in the fourth, despite an incredible night from Pascal Siakam. This season, Siakam has struggled with his scoring average of 17 points and 7.3 rebounds since January 1.
Coach Nick Nurse described Kyle with "super joy and enthusiasm" just like in his rookie season. Since Feb. 3, the Raptors have won four straight and are 7-2 overall, moving them up to ninth place in the East.
For the third consecutive game, the Raptors played without starting point guard Fred VanVleet due to personal reasons. Without VanVleet, Scottie Barnes was held to 13 points on 5-of-20 shooting while O.G. Anunoby scored seven points on 3-of-12 shooting in his absence.