Orthodox principal Leifer 'took advantage' of teens
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish school principal Malka Leifer used her position of power to sexually exploit her teenage students, taking advantage of their vulnerability, a jury has been told.
Leifer, 56, is facing 27 charges over the alleged abuse of Melbourne sisters Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper when she was head of religion and principal of the Adass Israel School in the city's eastern suburbs between 2003 and 2007.
Leifer, a mother of eight, has pleaded not guilty and is standing trial in the Victorian County Court.
Prosecutor Justin Lewis began his closing address to jurors on Wednesday afternoon after four weeks of evidence.
He broke down the charges, which include 11 of rape, 10 of indecent assault, as well as allegations of sexual penetration of a 16- or 17-year-old under Leifer's care, supervision or authority.
Mr Lewis said one incident allegedly occurred when Leifer kept Ms Erlich back from a school excursion to talk to her before abusing her during the afternoon.
When excursion buses returned at 4pm, Mr Lewis said a friend commented to Ms Erlich that she was jealous she got to spend more time with Leifer.
It's alleged Leifer also abused Ms Erlich and Ms Meyer when they shared a room on a school camp, and that she raped Ms Meyer in the lead up to her wedding, telling her that it would help her on her wedding night.
Ms Lewis said Ms Meyer described Leifer as "very frenzied" during one alleged incident of abuse.
It's alleged Leifer abused Ms Sapper both as a student and when she returned to the school as a student teacher, when Leifer was in a position of authority over her.
Mr Lewis said Leifer remained in a position of power to exploit Ms Sapper and took advantage of that relationship.
Prosecutors have also alleged Leifer had a tendency to have a sexual interest in girls when they were teenage students at the school and when those same girls were student teachers.
Mr Lewis alleged the tendency was to engage in sexual activities with them and to take advantage of their vulnerability, ignorance in sexual matters and her position of authority in order to do so.
He highlighted the women's isolated upbringing in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
They received no sex education and discussion of such matters was taboo, Mr Lewis said.
"Each of the complainants gave explicit evidence that they did not understand the sexual nature of what the accused did to them," he said, adding that this allowed Leifer to offend against them on multiple occasions.
At all times, Leifer was in a position of power over the sisters, jurors heard.
Mr Lewis said Ms Sapper described being conditioned from a young age to respect authority and never question it.
She also said Leifer was well-received by the community when she arrived.
"People were happy that she was here," Ms Sapper said.
Another sister said Leifer never stopped being a revered person while she was at the school.
Mr Lewis said those comments showed the women were prepared to do their best to provide an accurate picture in an even-handed way and not to attempt to place Leifer in a bad light at every turn.
"It should give you some confidence in the truthfulness of their evidence," he said.
Mr Lewis' closing address is expected to continue on Thursday, followed by remarks from Leifer's barrister, Ian Hill KC.