June 27, 2018
By Alexandra Carlton
Three sisters share their heartbreaking stories
Dassi Erlich and her sisters risked everything to tell their stories of sexual abuse at the hands of their headmistress at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne. Years later, they’re still fighting to bring her to justice.
It’s difficult to imagine that not long ago they were subjected to a breach of trust so sickening that a Victorian Supreme Court justice called it “monstrous”. When they were teenagers, each of the girls allege, they suffered sustained sexual abuse at the hands of their female school principal. The woman, Malka Leifer, was the headmistress of Melbourne’s all-girls ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel School – and the one adult the sisters felt they could trust. Perhaps more monstrous still is that Leifer – in her privileged position – was then protected and spirited away to safety in Israel before the girls could seek justice.
The sisters – once manipulated into terrified silence – are now fighting a courageous battle to bring her back to Australia to face 74 charges of child sex abuse. “This is about owning my own story,” Dassi has said. “My daughter will one day grow up and read about my life. I want it to be a story of strength and inspiration rather than victimhood.”
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