School Committee Associates Flew Adass Israel School Principal out of Melbourne, Trial Told

By Patrick Hatch
The Age
May 8, 2015

Adass Israel Girls School in Elsternwick. Photo: Pat Scala

A school committee conspired to fly its principal out of the country after allegations of child sex abuse were raised against her, a court has heard.

Malka Leifer fled to Israel on an early morning flight in March 2008, just days after allegations were made that she had abused students at Adass Israel School in Elsternwick.

Mair Ernst told the Supreme Court on Friday of an emergency meeting where the Congregation Adass Israel committee decided to sack Mrs Leifer and arrange for her and her family to leave Australia.

Malka Leifer

The Congregation is partly responsible for running the ultra-Orthodox Jewish school.


Mr Ernst said he then asked his wife Hadassa to arrange plane tickets through the eastern suburbs travel agents she worked for, owned and run by Tammy Koniarski.

Mrs Koniarski told the court how Mrs Ernst called her about 10pm on March 5, telling her she needed urgent tickets out of the country

She said she met Mrs Ernst at their office later that night to process the sale using a supplied credit card number and to hand over the tickets.

The court heard that Mrs Leifer flew out of Australia to Israel at 1.20am on March 6.

Mr Ernst said he nobody specifically asked him to arrange the tickets, but rather it was a "collective decision" of the committee.

When asked, Mr Ernst said he had "no idea" who paid for the tickets, which cost over $8000.

"I don't remember at all even if payment came into consideration at that time," he told the court.

Mr Ernst said he was not aware of anyone on the committee contacting police to pass on the allegations at the time.

A former student, who along with her two sisters claims to have been abused by Mrs Leifer, is suing the school for damages.

The court earlier heard claims that Mrs Leifer, a mother of eight, used the pretext of "religious lessons" to abuse the plaintiff, starting when the plaintiff was aged 15.

Mrs Leifer was arrested in the West Bank settlement town of Emanuel in August last year and is facing extradition to Victoria to face child sex abuse charges.

The trial is expected to continue on Monday.








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