Just days after one of Malka Leifer’s victims first spoke out about the ongoing abuse at the Adass Israel School in Elsternwick the principal boarded an early-morning flight to Israel.
Members of a committee closely linked with the school helped organise the tickets after a decision was made to sack Mrs Leifer.
Travel agent Tammy Konisarski told the Supreme Court today she was asked to arrange urgent tickets about 10pm on March 5, 2008.
She said she was told “people have to go to Israel urgently.”
Mrs Leifer boarded an Israel-bound El Al flight just hours later, leaving Melbourne at 1.20am.
She has never returned and efforts are now underway to have her extradited to face criminal charges.
She, and the Adass Israel School, are being sued in the Supreme Court by a former pupil and teacher who alleges she was molested by Mrs Leifer up to three times a week for several years.
Former committee member Mair Ernst told the trial after the allegations surfaced his wife Hadassa arranged plane tickets for the then headmistress.
“We had accusations only and very, very little information that Mrs Leifer had molested girls,” he said.
Mr Ernst said the committee met urgently when the allegations surfaced in 2008, and a “collective” decision was made to arrange flights for Ms Leifer and her family.
“She was manipulative and we wanted to do everything possible to protect these poor girls,” he said.
The committee decided to suspend Ms Leifer at that time and a report was made to police.
Ms Leifer was invited to go to the committee meeting, but became “rude and aggressive” and “denied everything” when the allegations were discussed and didn’t attend, he said.
The plaintiff, and two of her sisters, have told the court they were routinely abused at the school, on school camps, and at Mrs Leifer’s home.
The abuse is said to have occurred after Mrs Leifer, becoming aware of their troubled home life, offered them private religious tuition.
Mrs Leifer, who has since returned to Israel, is not defending the case.
They say members of the ultra-orthodox community flew from Israel to threaten their eldest sibling with ostracism if the lawsuit against Mrs Leifer was not dropped.
The sibling was harassed and pressured shortly before she died from a heart attack, the court heard.
The trial has heard that Mrs Leifer also abused a string of other students.
The Supreme Court trial was continuing.