Two charges dropped against ultra-Orthodox principal
Two charges have been dropped against former ultra-Orthodox Jewish school principal Malka Leifer as they predate when the relevant legislation came into effect.
The 56-year-old is facing a trial in Melbourne's County Court on 29 charges over the alleged sexual abuse of three sisters when she was principal of the Adass Israel School in the city's eastern suburbs.
However, jurors on Monday were told they would not be asked to reach a verdict on two charges of indecent acts with a child aged under 16 or 17, relating to alleged offending during school play rehearsals.
That offence came into effect on December 1, 2006, and Judge Mark Gamble told the jury there was evidence the alleged offending likely occurred before that date.
"On that basis, I have a duty as the trial judge to direct an acquittal on those charges at the close of the prosecution case, and I have done so after hearing from the parties," Judge Gamble said.
"So I have directed that verdicts of not guilty be entered on the record in respect of charges 20 and 21."
The prosecution would still rely on details from the alleged incident as evidence to demonstrate Leifer's alleged pattern of behaviour, he said.
However, the defence will contend that those incidents did not occur at all.
Jurors will be asked to deliver a verdict on the remaining 27 charges.
The trial returns on Wednesday, when closing arguments will begin.