Leifer accusers set to attend court in person to give evidence

The three sisters who allege they were sexually abused by Malka Leifer are set to give evidence in person in court later this year rather than appear via video links.

As Ms Leifer faced Melbourne Magistrates Court for the second time since her extradition from Israel in January, the court heard it was the preference of sisters Elly Sapper, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer to be questioned in person in the hearing that determines whether the former principal stands trial.

Malka Leifer – court sketchCredit:Mollie McPherson

The cross-examination of the three women could feature questions “about what was happening at home” at the time of the alleged abuse, defence lawyer Tony Hargreaves told the court.

Mr Hargreaves said Ms Leifer’s barrister, Ian Hille, QC, might pursue that line of questioning but if he did so, he would “ensure it is done properly”.

The three sisters will be among 10 witnesses called in the five-day committal hearing set to start on September 13. That hearing will determine whether Ms Leifer stands trial.

The former principal of the Adass Israel School in Elsternwick is accused of sexually abusing the sisters, when they were students at the school, between 2004 and 2008.

Ms Leifer’s alleged victims: Sisters Elly Sapper (left), Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer.Credit:Jason South

Ms Leifer faces 74 charges comprising 11 counts of rape, 47 of indecent assault, three of sexual penetration of a child and 13 of committing an indecent act with a child. Charge sheets allege the abuse happened in Elsternwick, Elwood, Frankston and Emerald and the regional towns of Blampied and Rawson.

The 54-year-old has long maintained she is innocent of the allegations against her.

Ms Leifer appeared in Friday’s administrative hearing on a video link from prison, but sat with her head downwards, looking away from the camera, and said nothing other than to confirm she could hear. She wore a blue top and a white headscarf as a guard sat behind her in a small room.

Prosecutor Holly Baxter and Mr Hargreaves told magistrate Johanna Metcalf it was both sides’ preference that lawyers attend the committal hearing in person rather than conduct it online, to ensure the hearing ran efficiently.

Ms Leifer’s alleged victims: Sisters Elly Sapper (left), Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer.Credit:Jason South

The coronavirus pandemic has meant most court cases are conducted online, as the courts try to ensure safe social distancing in their buildings.

Malka Leifer.

Complainants in sexual assault cases in Victoria often give their evidence via a video link from a remote facility so they can avoid the distress of attending court in person.

But while remote facilities have been booked for Ms Sapper, Ms Erlich and Ms Meyer, prosecutor Holly Baxter said it was the women’s preference to attend court in person to give their evidence.

It is not yet clear whether Ms Leifer will also attend the hearing in person or watch on a video link from prison.

Ms Sapper, Ms Erlich and Ms Meyer were last year granted a court order which allows them to publicly identify themselves and speak about their case.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article