Woman 'distraught' disclosing alleged Leifer abuse
One of three sisters allegedly sexually abused by former ultra-Orthodox Jewish school principal Malka Leifer was distraught when revealing what happened to her, a court has been told.
Leifer, 56, is facing trial on 29 charges over the alleged sexual abuse of Melbourne sisters Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper when she was principal of the Adass Israel School in the city's eastern suburbs.
The mother of eight has pleaded not guilty and is standing trial in the Victorian County Court.
Ms Erlich was the first to disclose allegations of abuse by Ms Leifer, in a counselling session in Israel with Chana Rabinowitz in early 2008.
Ms Rabinowitz, a social worker, was previously hired to work with students and families at Adass Israel in Melbourne and had met Ms Erlich's family then.
While her notes of sessions with Ms Erlich were lost on an old computer, Ms Rabinowitz said in recorded evidence played to the jury on Thursday that memories of that conversation were imprinted on her mind.
She asked Ms Erlich who had hurt her and the young woman replied "it was Mrs Leifer".
"She was very distraught," she said.
"I remember that she was kind of hunched over into herself and she could only whisper what it was."
She said Ms Erlich told her she had been called to Leifer's home during the day when no-one was there and that Leifer would undress her and tell her what to do.
Leifer told her that it would be good for her future marriage and that it would help her, she said Ms Erlich told her.
"We continued to speak and she gave me permission to be in contact with Adass Israel and inform the administration of the school what had happened to her," she said.
Leifer was stood down at a school board meeting in March 2008.
Ms Rabinowitz was first asked by Victoria Police to make a statement in 2011, but she refused.
She said she received legal advice that if she spoke to police, lawyers for Ms Erlich might sue her.
"My own motivation at that point was that I didn't think my own particular evidence was particularly important," she said.
She told one officer that if they ever came to Israel to contact her again and she'd see if she was ready or willing to talk then.
Ms Rabinowitz made a statement to police in 2021.
The trial is set to continue on Monday.