Danby Supported Leifer’s Visa Application. Says Child Abuse ‘pernicious Evil’

The Australian
May 7, 2015

MEMBER for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby has described child abuse as “a pernicious evil” adding that “anyone found responsible should face the full consequences of the law” after it was revealed yesterday that he had helped former Adass Israel principal Malka Leifer secure a visa allowing her to work in Australia.

A former student at Adass, who alleges Leifer sexually abused her over a number of years, has launched a lawsuit against the school and Leifer which is currently being heard in the Victorian Supreme Court.

Two letters written by Danby to the Department of Immigration in support of Leifer’s visa application before she took up her role at the ultra-Orthodox Melbourne school were submitted to the court on Thursday

Meanwhile, the former student gave graphic evidence to the court this week about the sexual assaults, which she said had resulted in “nightmares and anxiety and flashbacks” that have marred her life.

Questioned by barrister Dyson Hore-Lacy SC today on Thursday, the second day of the trial under Justice John Rush, she said she received psychological counselling for feeling “suicidal”.

She said she had issues breastfeeding her baby due to traumatic sexual assaults she alleged Leifer had inflicted on her. A photograph of the woman’s arm showing scarring from self-harm was tendered as evidence.

The plaintiff said the alleged sex abuse, in Year 12 of her studies at the girls’ school, ruined her prospects of becoming a child psychologist, her career choice, and she was now on anti-depressants and working several hours a week as a personal carer.

She said when she tried to get financial assistance from Adass to cover counselling fees, the school had refused.

A sister of the woman, also claiming she was sexually assaulted by Leifer, also gave evidence. She said she discovered Leifer and the plaintiff alone in a school room, “flustered, dishevelled”.

Another sister said Leifer had “favourites” among the pupils and took children to her office and home on the pretext of private tuition.

She told the court that during a school camp, she, Leifer and the plaintiff shared a bedroom. Leifer and the plaintiff shared a double bed and she saw Leifer make sexual advances to the plaintiff in bed.

She said that when she was contacted by a psychologist in Israel, where the plaintiff lived for a while, she confirmed the allegations her sister made during counselling, and soon after, Leifer was “begging” her not to say anything.

Leifer then vanished and turned up in Israel.

The court this heard week Leifer was hastily spirited out of the country to Israel by the school’s board when it became aware of the abuse allegations in March 2008.

Leifer is currently under house arrest in Israel following an extradition request from Victorian Police.

The trial continues.








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