Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Australia Hasidic School Must Pay $1M for Same-Sex Abuse of Girl

A woman alleged to have been sexually abused by the principal of a Haredi Orthodox Jewish day school in Melbourne has been awarded $1 million in damages.

Justice Jack Rush said in Melbourne’s Supreme Court on Wednesday that the actions taken by the Adass Israel School in helping former principal Malka Leifer flee Australia in 2008 were “deplorable and disgraceful.” The allegations of her behavior were raised shortly after she left Australia.

The school also has been criticized for failing to contact police.

Leifer has been arrested in Israel where she is facing extradition to Australia to face 74 charges of sexual abuse against girls at the school.

Hadassah Ehrlich, who sued the school, is one of three sisters who allegedly were abused by Leifer with the offenses involving Ehrlich starting in 2002 when she was 15.

The judge found the school liable “for the former student’s pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, economic loss and past and future medical expenses.” He ordered the school to pay Ehrlich $912,740 in damages and ordered Leifer to pay $107,500.

The school told JTA it would not comment on the ruling.

In response to the Supreme Court decision, the President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, or JCCV, Jennifer Huppert said in a statement: “Although the Adass Israel School is not affiliated with the JCCV, events at Adass concern all members of the community. The JCCV believes very strongly that Malka Leifer must be brought back to Australia to face justice. It is critical for the sake of the victims and for healing to be able to take place.”

She added: “We are pleased to note that the current administration has been working towards improving policies and procedures regarding child sexual abuse, and they have been participating in this year’s JCCV Child Protection Policy & Procedures Training. We hope that the administration of the school use this knowledge to ensure a safe and secure environment for the children in their care.”

The Austalian daily The Age reported Thursday that a second student who was an alleged victim of Leifer has started lawsuit proceedings against the school.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.